Reaching the Top of the Docket: Louisiana's Preference System
58 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2009 Last revised: 4 Oct 2009
Date Written: September 30, 2009
Since at least 1846 the Louisiana legislature has attempted to direct the order in which cases are tried in Louisiana through statutes establishing docket preferences. Scores of statutes and code articles direct Louisiana courts to try or to hear appeals of certain types of cases before others. Other statutes, sometimes referred to as expedition statutes, mandate that a court hear or decide a case within a certain time frame. Few of these statutes are used by the average practitioner; many are buried so deeply in the statute books that few lawyers know they exist.
Even if one knows of the existence of these statutes, the procedural rules for asserting them are muddled, and the statutes give little guidance. The rules conflict and overlap, and they are often mired in archaic language. Many direct that a case be heard quickly, but few direct that a case be decided quickly.
This article explores the history of docket preferences in Louisiana, unearths the buried statutes so that practitioners can use them if they choose, examines Louisiana’s procedural rules for requesting and applying the preferences, discusses the constitutional and ethical issues connected to docket preferences, and suggests improvements to the rules that would make them more effective.
Keywords: preference docket, priority docket, expedite, docket preference, special settings, appellate preference, Louisiana, civil procedure, preference, priority, expedition
JEL Classification: K00, K10, K19, K30, K39, K40, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation