Judge Gavel on a wooden background, Law library concept.

The 19th Judicial District Court and Baton Rouge City Court will reopen to the public Monday but with various coronavirus safety measures in place, court administrators announced Thursday.

Visitors to either downtown courthouse must wear masks and will have their temperature checked.

The 19th JDC and City Court announcements came nearly two months after Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a statewide stay-at-home order and three days after he announced that Louisiana will launch the first phase of reopening its economy Friday.

Actual courtroom proceedings won't be taking place in the 19th JDC for several weeks, however, and there will be no jury trials the rest of May or in June, 19th JDC Judicial Administrator Ann McCrory said in an email. It will be determined later precisely when jury trials will resume.

For the remainder of this month at the 19th JDC, only matters that are determined to be absolutely necessary to be heard in person, such as civil commitments and civil domestic violence, will take place in courtrooms. All other matters will continue to be by telephone or video teleconferencing.

Until the end of May, criminal matters such as "first appearances" and certain arraignments and pleas will be handled by video conferencing with the jailed persons at East Baton Rouge Parish Prison.

Litigants who have attorneys are being advised to communicate with their attorneys before coming in person to the 19th JDC, which is located on North Boulevard down the street from City Court.

The East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court offices in the 19th JDC, which have had reduced hours of 8 a.m. to noon since the stay-at-home order went into effect, will expand those hours from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. starting Monday.

Baton Rouge City Court intends to limit the number of visitors to that court, City Court Clerk of Court and Judicial Administrator Elzie Alford Jr. said.

City Court, located on St. Louis Street across from City Hall, will open at 8 a.m. Monday. The public will be allowed to pay fines and fees in person and file civil pleadings in person.

Strict adherence to the court's social distancing guidelines will be required. With no exceptions, only the person with court business will be allowed inside the courthouse, unless that individual is being accompanied by a caregiver or an interpreter.

City Court also will be open to the public for drug screens, to pay and handle outstanding bench warrants, obtain extensions, and visit the onsite motor vehicle office.

Alford said the court continues to encourage the public to visit the court's website to pay fines and fees online or by telephone, and to utilize fax filing for civil cases.

The court's fax filing number is (225) 389-5260. Payments can be made via the court's website at www.brla.gov/150/City-Court.


Email Joe Gyan Jr. at jgyan@theadvocate.com.