Citing Hurricane Ida's catastrophic damage, the Louisiana Supreme Court has ordered the suspension of time limitations in criminal cases in a 25-parish area that includes the Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Acadiana areas.
The suspension will expire 30 days after Gov. John Bel Edwards' Aug. 26 state of emergency declaration was issued, according to one of three emergency orders issued by Chief Justice John Weimer. Thirty days out from then is Sept. 24.
The parishes included in the suspension order are Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Martin, St. Mary, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, Washington, West Baton Rouge and West Feliciana.
"All time periods, limitations, and delays limitations pertaining to the initiation, continuation, prosecution, defense, appeal, and post-conviction relief of any prosecution of any state or municipal criminal, juvenile, wildlife, or traffic matter within (those) parishes ... are hereby suspended for a period of 30 days commencing from August 26, 2021," the order reads.
The Supreme Court also ordered the suspension of prescriptive periods in civil cases statewide until 30 days after the issuance of the governor's emergency declaration.
The law of prescription is commonly understood as a statute of limitations, or the effect of how the passage of time may create or destroy rights.
The New Orleans-based high court itself and its clerk's office shut down Wednesday through Sept. 19, one of the orders stated.
"All filings due during this period of closure, shall be deemed timely filed if filed on or before Monday, September 20, 2021," Weimer wrote. "However, during this closure, the Court will continue to handle emergency matters as necessary."
Cases scheduled to be heard Sept. 7-9 by the Supreme Court have been postponed to the court's October docket, the week of Oct. 18.
Court closure orders and information from courts across Louisiana are posted on the Louisiana Supreme Court website, lasc.org, as they are received.