Friday, September 9, 2005
With all of the immediate human suffering, Katrina's effects on the courts in Louisiana have not been on the forefront. However, an article today in the Dallas Morning News addresses the issue of how the court system is coping with the disaster. The Louisiana Supreme Court building has been completely flooded, a fate shared by many of the lower courts along the Gulf coast as well. Many case files have been destroyed. Gov. Kathleen Blanco issued an order suspending all state court operations through Sept. 25. The federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, meanwhile, has immediate plans to relocate to Houston by next week, and then relocate to a suburb of Baton Rouge by the end of the year, according to Judge Patrick Higginbotham.
Lawyers in the affected area are also scrambling to restore order. Many have relocated to other cities, and are reconstructing their case files through access to electronic court databases where available, and also through help from opposing attorneys. According to Louisiana State University law professor John Baker, the entire ordeal is a "lesson about what many of us take for granted, of what it takes to function every day, of what it takes to keep a society together."