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Code of Civil Procedure

Book VIII. Trial Courts of Limited Jurisdiction

Title I. General Dispositions

Chapter 1. Applicability:  Courts of Limited Jurisdiction

Art. 4831. Applicability of Book VIII

The provisions of this Book apply only to suits in trial courts of limited jurisdiction and to suits in the district courts within their jurisdiction concurrent with that of justices of the peace.  Except as otherwise provided in this Book, civil proceedings in a trial court of limited jurisdiction, and the enforcement of judgments rendered therein, shall be governed as far as practicable by the other provisions of this Code.

Acts 1979, No. 46, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1980.

Art. 4832. Trial courts of limited jurisdiction

Trial courts of limited jurisdiction are parish courts, city courts, and justice of the peace courts.

Acts 1979, No. 46, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1980.

Chapter 2. Civil Jurisdiction

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Chapter 3. Recusation of Judges;  Appointment of Judges Ad Hoc

Art. 4861. Recusation of judges

A parish court or city court judge or justice of the peace may recuse himself or be recused for the same reasons and on the same grounds as provided in Article 151.

Acts 1979, No. 46, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1980.

Art. 4862. Motion to recuse

When a motion is made to recuse a parish court or city court judge or a justice of the peace, he shall either recuse himself, or the motion to recuse shall be tried in the manner provided by Article 4863.

Acts 1979, No. 46, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1980.

Art. 4863. Determination of recusation;  appointment of judge ad hoc

A.  In a parish or city court having more than one judge, the motion to recuse shall be tried by another judge of the same court, and, if the judge is recused, the case shall be tried by another judge of the same court.  The manner in which the judge is selected to try the recusal and, in the event of recusal, to try the case, shall be provided by rule of court.

B.  In all other cases, the motion shall be tried by the district court and, if the judge is recused, the district court shall try the case or shall appoint another judge of a district, parish, or city court to try the case.

Acts 1979, No. 46, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1980.

Art. 4864. Appointment of judge ad hoc when judge recuses himself

A.  When a judge of a parish or city court recuses himself, he shall appoint another judge of the same parish or city court, if that court has more than one division; otherwise, he shall appoint either a parish or city court judge from an adjoining parish or, as judge-ad-hoc, an attorney domiciled in the parish who has the qualifications of a parish or city court judge.

B.  When a justice of the peace recuses himself, he shall appoint another justice of the peace to try the case.

Acts 1979, No. 46, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1980.

Art. 4865. Appointment of judge ad hoc in event of temporary inability of parish or city court judge

When a parish or city court judge is unable to preside due to temporary absence, incapacity, or inability, he may appoint a judge ad hoc, who may be another judge or who may be a lawyer domiciled in the parish who possesses the qualifications of the judge he replaces.  Appointment shall be by order, which shall reflect the term of and reasons for the appointment, and which shall be entered into the minutes of the court.

Acts 1979, No. 46, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1980.

Art. 4866. Power and authority of judge ad hoc

A judge ad hoc appointed under the provisions of Articles 4861 through 4865 shall have the same power and authority to act on the cases or on the dates to which appointed as the judge whom he replaces would have.

Acts 1979, No. 46, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1980.

Chapter 4. Jury Trials Prohibited;  Transfer to District Court

Art. 4871. Jury trial prohibited

There shall be no trial by jury in any case in a parish court, city court, or justice of the peace court.

Acts 1979, No. 46, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1980.

Art. 4872. Transfer to district court

A.  Where a principal demand is commenced in a parish or city court in which the defendant would otherwise be entitled to trial by jury under the provisions of Article 1731, or under any other provision of law, the defendant may obtain trial by jury by transferring the action to the district court in the manner provided by Article 4873.

B.  Where a principal demand commenced in a parish or city court is one in which the defendant was not entitled to trial by jury under the provisions of Article 1731, a party who files an incidental demand in that court as authorized by Article 4846 waives any right he may have to jury trial on such incidental demand.

Acts 1979, No. 46, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1980.

Art. 4873. Transfer to district court;  procedure;  contest;  effect

A party entitled thereto under the provisions of Article 4872 may transfer the action to the district court in the following manner:

(1)  Within the delay allowed for answer in the trial court of the limited jurisdiction, or within ten days after answer has been filed, he shall file a motion to transfer with the clerk of the court in which the suit is pending.  The motion shall include a declaration that the matter is one to which defendant would have been entitled to trial by jury if commenced in district court, and that defendant desires trial by jury.

(2)  If no opposition is filed within ten days after the filing of the motion to transfer, the judge of the court in which the suit is pending shall order the transfer to the district court.  If an opposition is timely filed, it shall be tried summarily.

(3)  Where a transfer is ordered, the clerk of the court in which the action was initially filed shall forward to the clerk of court to which the action is transferred a certified copy of the record in the initial court, including pleadings, minute entries, and all other proceedings.

The clerk of the district court shall file the action as a new proceeding in that court, upon payment by the defendant of a filing fee as provided by rule of the district court.  All costs accruing thereafter, however, shall be advanced in the same manner as though the action initially had been commenced in the district court by the original plaintiff.

(4)  When the matter is docketed by the clerk of the district court, the proceeding shall continue in that court as though originally commenced therein.  In the event transfer is effected prior to answer, defendant shall file his answer in the district court within the delays provided by Article 1001, commencing from the date the transferred proceeding is filed in that court.

(5)  The disposition of a motion to transfer and any opposition thereto shall not be appealable, but shall be reviewable through the exercise of its supervisory jurisdiction by the court of appeal having appellate jurisdiction over the case.

Acts 1979, No. 46, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1980.

Art. 4874. Withdrawal of demand for jury trial after transfer

A motion to transfer pursuant to this Chapter shall constitute a demand by the removing party for trial by jury.  He may not subsequently withdraw the demand without the approval of the court and the other party or parties.

Acts 1979, No. 46, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1980.

Art. 4875. Entire suit transferred

A.  An order to transfer divests the trial court of limited jurisdiction of jurisdiction over all claims and parties cumulated in the suit and the entire suit is transferred to the district court.

B.  The right of other parties to trial by jury in the district court shall be determined as if the suit had initially been commenced in that court.

Acts 1979, No. 46, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 1980.

Title II. Procedure in Trial Courts of Limited Jurisdiction

Chapter 1. Parish and City Courts

Art. 4901. Pleadings in parish and city courts

In suits in a parish court or a city court, written pleadings shall be required; provided, that a court may by rule provide for oral pleadings for suits in which the amount in dispute is two thousand dollars or less, and prescribe the form of such pleadings.

Acts 1986, No. 156, §1; Acts 1987, No. 249, §1.

Art. 4902. Citation in parish and city courts

A.  The citation shall summon the defendant to comply with the demand of the plaintiff against him, or to state his answer to the demand, within the delay provided by Article 4903, and shall state the location where the court is to be held.

B.  A copy of the petition shall be attached to the citation.

C.  The citation shall conform to the requirements for citation issuing out of the district court.

Acts 1986, No. 156, §1.

Art. 4903. Delay for answering in parish and city courts

The defendant shall answer within ten days of the service of citation, except that when the citation is served through the secretary of state, the delay, as to all defendants, shall be fifteen days after service.

Acts 1986, No. 156, §1.

Art. 4904. Final default judgment in parish and city courts

            A. In suits in a parish court or a city court, if the defendant fails to answer timely, or if he fails to appear at the trial, and the plaintiff proves his case, a final default judgment in favor of plaintiff may be rendered. No preliminary default is necessary.

            B. The plaintiff may obtain a final default judgment only by producing relevant and competent evidence which establishes a prima facie case. When the suit is for a sum due on an open account, promissory note, negotiable instrument, or other conventional obligation, prima facie proof may be submitted by affidavit. When the demand is based upon a promissory note or other negotiable instrument, no proof of any signature thereon shall be required.

            C. When the sum due is on an open account, promissory note, negotiable instrument, or other conventional obligation, a hearing in open court shall not be required unless the judge in his discretion directs that such a hearing be held. The plaintiff shall submit to the court the proof required by law and the original and not less than one copy of the proposed final default judgment. The judge shall, within seventy-two hours of receipt of such submission from the clerk of court, sign the proposed final default judgment or direct that a hearing be held. The clerk of court shall certify that no answer or other pleading has been filed by the defendant. The minute clerk shall make an entry showing the dates of receipt of proof, review of the record, and rendition of the final default judgment. A certified copy of the signed final default judgment shall be sent to the plaintiff by the clerk of court.

            Acts 1986, No. 156, §1; Acts 2017, No. 419, §1.

Art. 4905. Notice of judgment in parish or city courts

Notice of the signing of a final judgment shall be given as required by Article 1913.

Acts 1986, No. 156, §1; Acts 2001, No. 512, §1.

Art. 4906. Form of judgment in parish or city courts

The judgment shall be in writing, contain the typewritten or printed name of the judge, and be signed by the judge.  Any judgment that does not contain the typewritten or printed name of the judge shall not be invalidated for that reason.

Acts 1986, No. 156, §1; Acts 2014, No. 144, §1.

Art. 4907. New trials;  delay in parish or city courts

A.  After judgment is signed in the parish or city court, a party may make a written request or motion for new trial for any of the grounds provided by Articles 1972 and 1973.

B.  The delay for applying for a new trial shall be seven days, exclusive of legal holidays.  Where notice of judgment is required, this delay commences to run on the day after the clerk has mailed, or the sheriff has served, the notice of judgment.

Acts 1986, No. 156, §1; Acts 2010, No. 56, §1.

Art. 4908. New trial;  procedure in parish or city courts

The application for new trial, and the new trial, when granted, shall be governed by the provisions of Article 1971 and Articles 1975 through 1979.

Acts 1986, No. 156, §1.

Chapter 2. Civil Jurisdiction for Justice of the Peace Courts

Art. 4911. Jurisdiction in justice of the peace courts;  concurrent with district court;  amount in dispute

A.  The civil jurisdiction of a justice of the peace court is concurrent with the district court in cases where the amount in dispute does not exceed five thousand dollars.

B.  For the purpose of this Chapter, the amount in dispute is determined by the amount demanded or value asserted in good faith by the plaintiff, but does not include interest, court costs, attorney fees, or penalties, whether provided by agreement or by law.

C.  If the demand asserted in a good faith amended or supplemental pleading, or in any good faith incidental demand or any other pleading, exceeds the jurisdiction of the court, the court shall transfer the action to a court of proper jurisdiction.

Acts 1992, No. 692, §1; Acts 1999, No. 151, §1; Acts 1999, No. 678, §1; Acts 2005, No. 43, §1; Acts 2008, No. 338, §1.

Art. 4912. Possession or ownership of movable property;  eviction proceedings;  justice of the peace courts

A.(1)  A justice of the peace court shall, within its territorial jurisdiction, have jurisdiction, concurrent with the parish or district court, over suits for the possession or ownership of movable property not exceeding five thousand dollars in value and over suits by landowners or lessors for the eviction of occupants or tenants of leased residential premises, regardless of the amount of monthly or yearly rent or the rent for the unexpired term of the lease.

(2)  A judgment of ownership of a vehicle ordered by a justice of the peace court shall be recognized by the office of motor vehicles of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 4 of Title 32 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes of 1950.

B.  A justice of the peace court shall also have jurisdiction over suits by landowners or lessors for the eviction of occupants or tenants of leased commercial premises and leased farmlands where the amount of the monthly rental does not exceed five thousand dollars per month, regardless of the amount of rent due or the rent for the unexpired term of the lease.

Acts 1989, No. 298, §1; Acts 1991, No. 544, §1; Acts 2001, No. 713, §1, eff. June 25, 2001; Acts 2005, No. 43, §1; Acts 2008, No. 338, §1.

Art. 4913. Limitations upon jurisdiction;  nature of proceedings;  justice of the peace courts

A.  In addition to the limitation by the amount in dispute as set forth above, the jurisdiction of justice of the peace courts is limited by the nature of the proceeding, as set forth below.

B.  A justice of the peace court has no jurisdiction in any of the following cases or proceedings:

(1)  A case involving title to immovable property.

(2)  A case involving the right to public office or position.

(3)  A case in which the plaintiff asserts civil or political rights under the federal or state constitutions.

(4)  A claim for annulment of marriage, separation from bed and board, divorce, separation of property, or alimony.

(5)  A succession, interdiction, receivership, liquidation, habeas corpus, or quo warranto proceeding.

(6)  A case in which the state, or a parish, municipal, or other political corporation is a defendant.

(7)  An executory proceeding.

(8)  An adoption, tutorship, emancipation, or partition proceeding.

(9)  An in rem or quasi in rem proceeding.

(10)  Any other case or proceeding excepted from the jurisdiction of these courts by law.

 C.  In addition, a justice of the peace court may not issue any injunctive order, except to arrest the execution of its own writ and to enforce the execution of a judgment issued by a justice of the peace court or made executory in a justice of the peace court.

Acts 1986, No. 156, §1; Acts 1991, No. 545, §1.

 

Art. 4914. Contempt power;  justice of the peace courts

A justice of the peace may punish a direct contempt of court, as defined in Article 222, by a fine of not more than fifty dollars, or imprisonment in the parish jail for not more than twenty-four hours, or both.

Acts 1986, No. 156, §1; Acts 1991, No. 508, §3.

Art. 4915. Jurisdiction over the person;  justice of the peace courts

A justice of the peace court may exercise jurisdiction over the person to the same extent, and in the same manner, as a district court.

Acts 1986, No. 156, §1.

Art. 4916. Venue;  justice of the peace courts

The rules of venue provided in Articles 41 through 45 and in Articles 71 through 79 apply to suits brought in justice of the peace courts, except where these articles use the word "parish" it shall be construed to mean the territorial jurisdiction of the justice of the peace court.

Acts 1986, No. 156, §1; Acts 2012, No. 392, §1.

Art. 4917. Pleadings;  justice of the peace courts;  district courts with concurrent jurisdiction

A.  A party or his attorney may state the claim, exceptions, defenses, or other pleas orally to the justice of the peace or the clerk of court.  No written pleadings shall be required.

B.  A party may file written pleadings if he so desires, but additional fees resulting from written pleadings not required shall not be imposed upon the party cast as costs of court.

C.  A defendant shall include in his answer, whether oral or in writing, all of the exceptions upon which he intends to rely.

Acts 1986, No. 156, §1.

Art. 4918. Record of the case;  subsequent entries;  justice of the peace courts;  district courts with concurrent jurisdiction

When no written pleadings are required, the justice of the peace or the clerk of court shall record in a permanent book or case file the title of the case, the docket number, the name and address of all parties, a brief statement of the nature and amount of the claim, the issuance and service of citation, the defenses pleaded, motions and other pleas made, the names of witnesses who testified, a list of the documents offered at the trial, the rendition of judgment, and any appeal therefrom.

Acts 1986, No. 156, §1; Acts 2004, No. 679, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 2005.

Art. 4919. Citation;  service of citation;  justice of the peace courts;  district courts with concurrent jurisdiction

            A. The citation must be signed by the justice of the peace or the clerk of court issuing it, with an expression of his official capacity and under the seal of his office, must be accompanied by a certified copy of any petition, which has been filed, exclusive of exhibits, even if made a part thereof, and must contain the following:

            (1) The date of issuance.

            (2) The title of the cause.

            (3) The name of the person to whom it is addressed.

            (4) The title and location of the court issuing it.

            (5)(a) A statement that the person cited must either comply with the demand contained in the pleading filed by the plaintiff against him or make an appearance, either by filing a pleading or otherwise, in the court issuing the citation within the delay provided under Article 4920 under penalty of default.

            (b) If the matter is set for hearing pursuant to Article 4921.1(C), the citation must contain a statement that the person cited must either comply with the demand of the plaintiff against him or appear in the court issuing the citation at the time and date provided and that if he fails to appear, judgment may be entered against him.

            B. When a written petition has been filed, a copy thereof shall be attached to the citation.

            C. When the plaintiff has not filed a written petition, the citation shall:

            (1) State the amount and nature of the claim and the year or years in which the indebtedness was contracted or arose and shall describe sufficiently to place the defendant on notice any promissory note or other written evidence of indebtedness on which the demand is based; and

            (2) Describe the movable property and state the value thereof, if the suit is for the ownership or possession of movable property.

            D.(1) Service of citation or other process may be made by the court by certified mail, with return receipt requested, when costs therefore are posted with the court.

            (2) If the properly addressed certified mail return receipt reply form is signed by the addressee who is the defendant, service shall be considered personal service.

            (3) If the properly addressed certified mail return receipt reply form is signed by a person other than the defendant, service shall be considered domiciliary service.

            Acts 1986, No. 156, §1; Acts 2012, No. 666, §1; Acts 2015, No. 424, §1.

Art. 4920. Delay for answering;  justice of the peace courts;  district courts with concurrent jurisdiction

The defendant shall answer within ten days of the service of citation, except that, when the citation is served through the secretary of state, the delay, as to all defendants, shall be fifteen days after service.

Acts 1986, No. 156, §1.

Art. 4921. Final default judgment;  justice of the peace courts;  district courts with concurrent jurisdiction

            A. If the defendant fails to answer timely, or if he fails to appear at the trial, and the plaintiff proves his case, a final default judgment in favor of plaintiff may be rendered. No preliminary default is necessary.

            B. The plaintiff may obtain a final default judgment only by producing relevant and competent evidence which establishes a prima facie case. When the suit is for a sum due on an open account, promissory note, negotiable instrument, or other conventional obligation, prima facie proof may be submitted by affidavit. When the demand is based upon a promissory note or other negotiable instrument, no proof of any signature thereon shall be required.

            Acts 1986, No. 156, §1; Acts 2017, No. 419, §1.

Art. 4921.1. Demand for trial;  abandonment;  applicability

            A. After the lapse of fifteen days from the date the answer to the suit is filed pursuant to Article 4920, any party may make written demand to have the case set for trial. The judge shall give notice of trial within forty-five days of the answer being filed. The court shall issue notice of trial to be held within forty-five days of that date.

            B. Notwithstanding the three-year period for abandonment as provided by Article 561, if the parties fail to take any step in the prosecution or defense of the action for a period of one year, the action shall otherwise be subject to the procedures for abandonment as provided by Article 561, provided that the court has jurisdiction over the subject matter.

            C.(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of Paragraph A of this Article, the justice of the peace or clerk may set the matter for trial upon filing of a petition. The date, time, and location of the trial shall be contained in the citation. The first scheduled trial date shall be not more than forty-five days, nor less than ten days, from the service of the citation. If the defendant appears, he need not file an answer unless ordered to do so by the court. If a defendant who has been served with citation fails to appear at the time and place specified in the citation, the judge may enter a final default judgment for the plaintiff in the amount proved to be due. If the plaintiff does not appear, the judge may enter an order dismissing the action without prejudice.

            (2) If a matter has been set for trial pursuant to Subparagraph (1) of this Paragraph, no final default judgment shall be rendered prior to the trial date.

            Acts 2005, No. 489, §1; Acts 2015, No. 424, §1; Acts 2017, No. 419, §1.

Art. 4921.2. Duties of the justice of the peace;  trial procedure;  rules of evidence;  depositions

            A. At trial, it is the duty of the justice of the peace to conduct an informal hearing and to develop all of the facts necessary and relevant to an impartial determination of the case. The judge may take testimony, summon any party to appear as a witness in the suit upon his own motion, and do other acts which in his discretion appear necessary to effect a correct judgment and speedy disposition of the case. He may attempt to mediate disputes and encourage fair settlements among the parties.

            B. The technical rules of evidence are relaxed, and all relevant evidence is admissible, including hearsay, provided the justice of the peace satisfies himself of its general reliability, and further provided that the judgment is founded upon competent evidence.

            C. No depositions shall be taken and no interrogatories or other discovery proceedings shall be used except upon approval of the court. The court shall grant discovery only upon notice and good cause shown, and limited to the necessities of the case.

            Acts 2015, No. 424, §1.

Art. 4922. Notice of judgment;  justice of the peace courts;  district courts with concurrent jurisdiction

            Notice of the signing of any final judgment shall be given as required by Article 1913, except that if the party is personally served with the judgment in open court, no further notice shall be required.

            Acts 1986, No. 156, §1; Acts 2001, No. 512, §1; Acts 2015, No. 424, §1.

Art. 4923. Form of judgment;  justice of the peace courts;  district courts with concurrent jurisdiction

The judgment shall be in writing and signed by the justice of the peace or the clerk of court.

Acts 1986, No. 156, §1.

 

Art. 4924. Appeals from justice of the peace courts;  district courts with concurrent jurisdiction

A.  Appeal from a judgment rendered by a justice of the peace court or a clerk of court shall be taken to the parish court or, if there is no parish court, to the district court of the parish in which the justice of the peace court is situated.

B.  The case is tried de novo on appeal. However, a trial de novo, in the district court from the justice of the peace court, is not subject to the jurisdictional limit of the justice of the peace court.

C.  No further appeal from the judgment of the parish or district court is allowed.

D.  Supervisory jurisdiction of the proceedings in the parish or district court may be exercised by the court of appeal which otherwise would have had appellate jurisdiction.

Acts 1986, No. 156, §1; Acts 1999, No. 678, §1.

Art. 4925. Delay for appeal;  justice of the peace courts;  district courts with concurrent jurisdiction

            A. The appellant from a judgment rendered by a justice of the peace court or the clerk of court shall file suit for a trial de novo in the district court or the parish court within fifteen days from the date of the judgment or from the service of notice of judgment, when such notice is necessary. A copy of the suit for trial de novo shall be provided to all parties or their attorney of record. A copy of either the notice of suit for trial de novo or the suit pleadings shall also be provided to the justice of the peace court whose judgment is being appealed. The rules of the district court or parish court shall thereafter apply.

            B. When an application for new trial is timely filed, however, the delay for appeal commences on the day after the motion is denied, or from service of notice of the order denying a new trial, when such notice is necessary.

            Acts 1986, No. 156, §1; Acts 2015, No. 424, §1.

Chapter 3. Appeals from City and Parish Courts

Art. 5001. Appeals from city and parish courts

A.  Except as provided in Paragraph B of this Article, an appeal from a judgment rendered by a parish court or by a city court shall be taken to the court of appeal.

B.  Appeal from a judgment rendered by a city court located in the Nineteenth Judicial District shall be taken to the district court of the parish in which the court of original jurisdiction is located.

C. Appeal shall be on the record and shall be taken in the same manner as an appeal from the district court.

Acts 1986, No. 156, §1; Acts 2001, No. 1134, §1.

Art. 5002. Delay for appeal

A.  An appeal from a judgment rendered by a city court or a parish court may be taken only within ten days from the date of the judgment or from the service of notice of judgment, when such notice is necessary.

B.  When an application for new trial is timely filed, however, the delay for appeal commences on the day after the motion is denied, or from service of notice of the order denying a new trial, when such notice is necessary.

Acts 1986, No. 156, §1.

Art. 5003. Procedure for appealing

The appellate procedure provided by Book III for appeals from the district court shall be applicable.

Acts 1986, No. 156, §1.

Title III. District Courts Where Jurisdiction Concurrent with Justice of the Peace Courts

Art. 5011. Procedure

The rules provided in Articles 4917 through 4923 apply to a suit in a district court, when a justice of the peace would have concurrent jurisdiction thereof.

Acts 1986, No. 156, §1.