COVID-19 – What Are Your Rights?
Did you know that despite the public health declarations issued due to the COVID-19 national emergency that if you are arrested, you still have a constitutional right to a bond hearing? And while most of Louisiana is under order to stay at home, the courts are still operational?
The 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna and Criminal District Court in New Orleans are closed to the public after issuing orders earlier this month explaining how the courts will conduct business as Louisiana combats the Coronavirus pandemic. Both courthouses are closed until at least April 13, 2020. Jury trials have been suspended and citizens called for jury duty have been dismissed.
The Louisiana Supreme Court also has ordered that civil proceedings be continued except for hearings related to “civil protective orders, child in need of care proceedings, emergency child custody matters, proceedings for children removed from their home by emergency court order, proceedings related to emergency interdictions and mental health orders, matters of public health related to this crisis and other emergency matters necessary to protect the health, safety and liberty of individuals as determined by each court.’’
On the federal level, magistrates in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana are conducting criminal proceedings on Mondays and Fridays.
But the judicial system is still working, albeit with a smaller staff. Commissioners and magistrates are still setting first appearance hearings, arraignments and bond hearings for defendants utilizing video and teleconferencing. Attorneys are still teleconferencing with prosecutors on cases. And they are continuing to file motions via fax and electronically.
However, court operations are subject to change. For more information on court operations during this time, visit: the Louisiana Supreme Court at https://www.lasc.org/; the 24th Judicial District Court at https://www.24jdc.us/; Orleans Criminal District Court at http://www.criminalcourt.org/; and the U.S. District Court at http://www.laed.uscourts.gov/.