Plan set for limited re-opening of New Orleans’ Criminal District Court
April 30, 2020
For Immediate Release

Contact: Ken Daley, Public Information

The judges of Orleans Parish Criminal District Court, in consultation with other stakeholders in the criminal justice system, on Thursday (April 30) announced plans for a limited re-opening of the courthouse at Tulane Avenue and North Broad Street slated for two weeks after the city’s stay-at-home order is lifted.

According to the order issued by Chief Judge Karen K. Herman, each of the 12 sections of Criminal District Court will operate a docket once per week inside the courthouse, with no more than three courtrooms open per day. This limited re-opening will begin two weeks after whichever day Mayor LaToya Cantrell designates as the end of stay-at- home restrictions in New Orleans. The emergency orders were issued in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

Per order of the Louisiana Supreme Court, jury trials remain suspended statewide through at least June 30. No jurors will be summoned to serve at the Orleans Parish criminal courthouse until further notice. Magistrate court first appearances for new arrestees will continue to be held daily via video conferencing. For more information, visit the court’s website (www.criminalcourt.org), confer with sections through email addresses listed there on each judge’s page, or call (504) 658-9100.

District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, meanwhile, announced that the limited operations and public closure of his office will continue through at least May 16, in accordance with the mayor’s current stay-at-home order. Members of the public can have questions answered by an on-duty Assistant District Attorney by calling (504) 822-2414 between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekdays.

Details of the court’s Phase Two re-opening plan are available at www.criminalcourt.org. Elements of the plan include:

  • Persons entering the courthouse will be subject to a body temperature check and basic health interview before admittance.
  • Access to the courthouse and each courtroom will be strictly limited by Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies to safe occupancy numbers recommended by the Court’s medical expert consultant, Dr. Corey Hebert.
  • Pedestrian access to the courthouse will be limited to the main entrance on Tulane Avenue. Persons leaving the courthouse must do so via exit-only doors along North Broad Street and South White Street.
  • Three sections of court will be in session each Monday through Thursday, with specific daily court assignments and hours of operation to be announced prior to the Phase Two re-opening.
  • The courthouse will have a strict closure time for daily cleaning, and will be closed on Fridays for weekly deep cleaning and disinfectant treatments.
  • Specialty court clients will continue to be supervised remotely by treatment specialists and case workers until further notice. Clients are urged to stay in touch with their case managers as scheduled. The Court Intervention Services department can be reached by calling (504) 658-9400.
  • Pretrial Services clients are urged to call (504) 658-9482 before arriving at the courthouse.
  • Attorneys who are uncomfortable appearing in person will have the option of joining proceedings via video conferencing programs, only when approved by the court.
  • Members of the public will be able to access proceedings via video conferencing programs established by the individual court sections.
  • Incarcerated criminal defendants will not be transported from the Orleans Justice Center jail, but will participate in their court proceedings via video conferencing programs established by the court.
  • Restitution payments can be made online by visiting the court’s website. Those wishing to make payments in person should call (504) 658-9440 before arriving at the courthouse.

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