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What the courts need to do is different in different situations. In general, the Louisiana Supreme Court has ordered that video hearings (such as Zoom) should be used as much as possible for court hearings. Some courts are doing most of their hearings that way.
When the courts require people show up in person, the Louisiana Supreme Court has ordered the courts must take the steps needed to allow social distancing. Under the Governor’s Orders, courts must also enforce mask-wearing throughout the facility.
If you get a notice to go to court, you can call the Judge’s staff (but not the judge) and find out what can be done to keep safe.
If you have been told to come to court, but that would mean a higher risk of getting Covid than you have in your day to day life, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services may be able to help you. This includes if you would face a risk in getting to court. (For example, if you would have to use public transportation or get a ride from someone you are not normally close to.) Call our COVID-19 Helpline at 1-844-244-7871 to see if we can provide free help.
If you requested a hearing by video, you must provide the court with a good phone number and email address that you will be checking daily. The information for your videoconference hearing will likely be sent by email. If your contact information changes, you should let the court know as soon as possible.
You should check your email often (at least daily) leading up to your hearing, since the court may send information about your case and you may need to take action quickly.
Do not ignore the video hearing. If you cannot make the hearing, notify the court in advance (unless it was something like an emergency hospitalization).
If you cannot connect to the hearing using the information sent to you, contact the court immediately. If your connection drops during the hearing or if you are kicked off of the call, immediately try to get back in. If this does not work, contact the court.
If you are able to connect but cannot see or hear the other people on the call, do not just leave the meeting. Try to let the other people on the call know about the issues you are having by either speaking or using the “chat” feature on the program or calling the judge’s staff while the hearing is still happening.
If you do not connect for your hearing and do not answer if the court tries to contact you, a judgment may be entered against you. This may require you to file additional motion(s) and paperwork with the court, or else lose your case.
Other tips for your virtual hearing can be found here.
First call the judge’s staff. (Where to find the number is set out above.) Ask if a decision was made by the court on your case, and if so what can be done to undo it.
If you need help and do not have an attorney on the case, call our COVID-19 Helpline at 1-844-244-7871 to see if we can provide free help.
People do not generally have a choice about whether they are involved in court proceedings. (This is different, for example from going to a store or a restaurant where you might be able to “vote with your feet” and choose another restaurant or store if you feel that things are unsafe.)
To try to get things fixed you can:
You can also call Southeast Louisiana Legal Services if you are in a court case and need help keeping safe. Call our COVID-19 Helpline at 1-844-244-7871 to see if we can provide free help.
Current as of June 14, 2020
Most legal deadlines in Louisiana are suspended through July 5, 2020 and most family law courts are only hearing emergency cases such as:
Some matters may be filed remotely (by fax, mail, or e-filing). Your local court may have a longer list of matters being heard and accepted.
Yes. Other than the emergency matters above, all family law deadlines are automatically extended through at least July 5, 2020. Action will be required come July 6, 2020. The Court may contact you or your attorney if your case is currently scheduled for a hearing or status conference. Most non-emergency matters will be rescheduled. You can always call the court directly for an update on your case.
For more details and updates about the extended deadlines, please check our COVID-19 resources at https://slls.org/faq-for-legal-deadlines-during-the-covid-19-crisis/ or consult an attorney.
All major courts should be open in some way for emergencies, including but not limited to civil protection/restraining orders, emergency custody matters, and stopping illegal evictions. If you believe you have an emergency or cannot get access to the court, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) may be able to assist or advise for free. Please call one of the numbers at the bottom of this flyer for more information.
If you believe you or your children are in immediate danger, you can still request a restraining order. Louisiana Protection Order Forms are available on most court websites. If you need a restraining/protection order, or cannot get access to the forms, SLLS may be able to assist or advise for free. See the numbers at the bottom of this flyer for the number to call in your area.
This is an emergency that the courts should be open for. SLLS may be able to assist or advise for free. Please call one of the numbers at the bottom of this FAQ.
All protection and restraining orders are extended through at least July 5, 2020. Also, some Louisiana courts have extended their protection and restraining orders longer.
Please be aware that the police or sheriffs may not know about this extension, and your abuser probably does not know about the extension either. If you are having any issues, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services may be able to assist or advise for free. Please call one of the numbers at the bottom of this flyer.
Many organizations locally and around the country remain open to help you with your needs, from counseling services to emergency shelter or help with filing for a protective order. Because of Covid-19, many services normally available in person are available by phone or video chat. There are 24/7 domestic violence hotlines including:
|Metro Center for Community Advocacy||Jefferson, St. Charles, St. John, St. James Parishes||1-504-837-5400|
|Safe Harbor||St. Tammany, Washington Parishes||1-985-626-5740|
|SAFE||Tangipahoa, Livingston, St. Helena, Washington Parishes||1-985-542-8384|
|The Haven||Houma area (Terrebonne, Lafourche, Assumption Parishes)||1-800-915-0045 or 1-800-777-8868|
|IRIS||Baton Rouge area||1-225-389-3001|
|New Orleans Family Justice Center/Crescent house||New Orleans area||1-504-866-9554 or 1-504-592-4005|
|STAR||New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Central Louisiana areas||1-855-435-STAR|
|Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence||All of Louisiana||1-888-411-1333|
|National Domestic Violence Hotline||United States||1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-799-7233, or log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522|
If any of these resources are no longer available, please call our COVID-19 Hotline (1-844-244-7871) to let us know and so we can connect you to other resources.