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Eastern District Civil and Criminal Jury Trials Suspended Until January 1, 2021

Federal Eastern District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown issued COVID-19 General Order No. 20-10 on August 20, 2020, which suspends all civil and criminal jury trials until January 1, 2021. "Those continuances do not continue any pending deadlines other than the trial dates. Attorneys should contact the presiding judges in their continued cases if they seek to modify such other deadlines."

Posted: Aug. 20, 2020

Judge Feldman: Bar Closure Orders Constitutional

A first pass summary: Eastern District Court Judge Martin Feldman decided that, as between him taking heat without accountability for the possibility of increased infections and Governor Edwards exercising executive authority to close businesses at the risk of electoral accountability, Governor Edwards prevails. Bars remain closed.

Posted: Aug. 17, 2020

A Slew of Pleas

Last year in A Slew of Stays we reported on a series of orders from Eastern District judges staying cases pending a DOJ investigation. The Department issued a press release on August 6, 2020 announcing guilty pleas, apparently in connection with that investigation. WWL TV reported more details online, including a name they identify as "Attorney A". Obviously, this story is far from over.

Posted: Aug. 6, 2020

SD Miss - Judge Pleads for End to Qualified Immunity

United States District Court Judge for the Southern District of Mississippi, Carlton Reeves, dismissed civil rights claims against a police officer on grounds of qualified immunity for the (apparently unjustified) one hour fifty minute stop and search of plaintiff's car. The lengthy, detailed and forceful opinion provides a history lesson on the jurisprudential evolution of federal civil rights law and the doctrine of qualified immunity. In conclusion, Judge Reeves writes:

Instead of slamming shut the courthouse doors, our courts should use their power to ensure Section 1983 serves all of its citizens as the Reconstruction Congress intended. Those who violate the constitutional rights of our citizens must be held accountable. When that day comes we will be one step closer to that more perfect Union.

VII. Conclusion

Again, I do not envy the task before the Supreme Court. Overturning qualified immunity will undoubtedly impact our society. Yet, the status quo is extraordinary and unsustainable. Just as the Supreme Court swept away the mistaken doctrine of “separate but equal,” so too should it eliminate the doctrine of qualified immunity. Earlier this year, the Court explained something true about wearing the robe:
Every judge must learn to live with the fact he or she will make some mistakes; it comes with the territory. But it is something else entirely to perpetuate something we all know to be wrong only because we fear the consequences of being right.
Let us waste no time in righting this wrong.

I'd prefer that Judge Reves' point could be effectively made without resort to the racial element and expanded beyond police conduct. Qualified immunity has the potential to shield abusers regardless of the race of the abused. It also extends to public officials whose conduct isn't subject to the same pressures and immediacy as police officers. But, the issue deserves consideration and this is a time and a context in which the force of Judge Revees' argument won't lightly be ignored.

Posted: Aug. 5, 2020

Quashal Quahed

Standing to quash a subpoena served on a non-party is generally not conferred on the parties themselves. That requires the moving party to “be in possession or control of the requested material; be the person to whom the subpoena is issued; or have a personal right or privilege in the subject matter of the subpoena.”

Posted: July 31, 2020

Judge Moore - Supreme Court Grants Relief

The Supreme Court issued a per curiam order this morning allowing the chair of 19th JDC Judge Chip Moore's re-election committee to sign qualifying paperwork on his behalf. Judge Moore has until November 2, 2020, to sign the certificate, which will then relate back to the date of the paperwork submitted on his behalf.

Posted: July 24, 2020

Tort Law Remanded, Revised, Reviewed, Reengrossed an Enrolled

And now, it's off to see the Governor:

Posted: July 1, 2020

RFAs 4 Life - the Medical Literature

After repeated defense successes limiting repeat RFA treatments before Judge Susie Morgan of the Eastern District (see Brandner and Brooks), plaintiffs strike a blow for ablations for life in the Western District. In Tyson v. National Specialty Ins. Co., 5:17-cv-01427 (USDC-WDLA 06/29/20), Judge Elizabeth Foote distinguished the Brandner decision specifically for lacking the medical evidence presented to her in the form of the International Spine Intervention Society's "Practice Guidelines for Spinal Diagnostic and Treatment Procedures" (attached below).

Posted: July 1, 2020

3 New Jersey Restaurant Business Interruption Class Actions

Three class actions were recently filed in the federal District of New Jersey alleging bad faith denial of covered business interruption claims. They include:

Truehaven Enterprises, Inc. d/b/a Fiorino Ristorante v. Chubb Ltd and Indemnity Insurance Company of North America

N&S Restaurant, L.L.C. v. Cumberland Mutual Fire Insurance Company

Beniak enterprises, Inc. v. Chubb Ltd and Indemnity Insurance Company of North America

Posted: May 7, 2020

Reduced Miles Traveled and Auto Insurance Rebates

Auto insurers are rebating premiums to policy holders in response to decreased miles traveled under stay-at-home policies. One consumer group suggests the amounts are insufficient.

The Consumer Federation of America ("CFA") is pressing the matter with published data and through pressure on state insurance commissioners. Their report is available below.

Specific to Louisiana, CFA reports a vehicle miles traveled decrease of approximately 60% from late March through Late April.

Other information available at the group's website includes:

The letter from CFA Director of Insurance, J. Robert Hunter, to state insurance commissioners is also posted below.

Posted: May 7, 2020