Louisiana’s legislature scrambling to rewrite laws related to courts due to population shifts and declines in state

A variety of states grant certain areas or the judges/clerks/employees of certain courts options or authorities based on the population they serve. For example, in South Carolina, each county with a population over 130,000 in the latest census is required to have a master-in-equity court. (Sec. 14-11-10)

Several states have, however, started to move away from specifications based on population and identification of counties, localities, or municipalities by name. Louisiana’s legislature, as part of its special redistricting session, is doing so with respect to numerous courts in the state, in particular focusing on the changing population in the city of New Orleans and Orleans Parish post-Hurricane Katrina. In the past, references to the power of traffic courts in “parishes with a population in excess of four hundred seventy-five thousand” could only mean Orleans Parish with a population of 484,674 in the 2000 Census. As of 2010, however, no parishes in the state have a population over 441,000. Similar references to courts in areas having a population between X and Y became confused, no longer applicable, or possibly applicable to courts not originally intended.

As a result, the following pieces of legislation have been introduced to address just some of the changes to the Louisiana Revised Statutes of 1950, or other codified law collections separate from the R.S. (such as the Code of Criminal Procedure).

HB 13A Title 49 (State Administration)

HB 15A Title 32 (Motor Vehicles and Traffic Regulation)

HB 21A Title 11 (Consolidated Public Retirement Systems)

HB 22A Code of Criminal Procedure

HB 24A Title 15 (Criminal Procedure)

HB 26A Title 33 (Municipalities and Parishes)

HB 28A Titles 11 (Consolidated Public Retirement Systems), 18 (Election Code), 25 (Libraries, Museums, & Cultural Affairs), 33 (Municipalities and Parishes), and 42 (Public Officers and Employees)

SB 7A Children’s Code

SB 8A Code of Civil Procedure

SB 9A Title 9 (Civil Code – Ancillaries)

SB 15A Title 43 (Public Printing and Advertisements)

SB 17A Title 13 (Courts and Judicial Procedure)

Special Edition on Court Funding

The American Bar Association Task Force on Preservation of the Justice System will be holding its inaugural meeting in Atlanta today. The task force is set to address “the severe underfunding of our justice system, depletion of resources, and the courts’ struggle to render their constitutional function and provide access to justice for countless Americans.

This special edition of Gavel to Gavel looks at just some of the ways state legislatures have proposed funding courts in the last several years.

The regular, weekly edition of Gavel to Gavel will appear Thursday.