Louisiana courts brace for lifted moratorium on jury and bench trials

Trial for Iberia Parish Clerk of Court continues
Posted at 5:55 AM, Mar 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-31 07:43:49-04

Louisiana courts are bracing for a moratorium to be lifted on jury and bench trials after the pandemic created almost 13 months worth of backlog.

After a difficult year navigating a pandemic and two hurricane, Louisiana judges once again have their work cut out for them.

"We have had to forego jury trials for well over a year," says Louisiana State Supreme Court Justice James Genovese.

The backlog of unresolved cases that stems from that year is continuing to grow, meaning a year ahead of more jurors summoned and more trials per day.

"They're going to have to double up and we're going to have to catch up. That means more cases will have to be scheduled," says Genovese.

Each judge will face a new challenge, balancing right to a speedy trial with the burden of public safety.

"Safety is paramount. At no time would a judge place anyone in harm's way so they're going to have their own program of how they'll handle their own docket and their own jury trials and you can expect as you walk in that the primary consideration is going to be safety," says Genovese.

Next to safety, the priority is civil and criminal justice, and Justice Genovese says there is reason to believe our court system will be back to its regular state in less time than you might think.

"A lot of these cases will wash out. On the criminal side you'll see a lot of pleas and they'll move things along. And on the civil side, you'll see a lot of cases settled and we're going to get going again and we're going to absorb this backlog within a year."