Spring Edition NEW ORLEANS CHAPTER Vol. 15, No. 2
EDITORIAL BOARD: BARRY W. ASHE AND VALERIE T. SCHEXNAYDER
MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
BY PATRICK E. O’KEEFE
“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times...” This passage from Dickens’
“A Tale of Two Cities” might well be used to describe the current situation in New Orleans.
The upcoming regular session of the Legislature may prompt sweeping and significant changes
to the structure and methodology of municipal government. Impending citywide elections
may bring more profound changes in the direction and future of the city than any election in
recent memory. The uncertainties of the post-hurricane era are still with us; the challenges
are still just as real. But exciting options for rebirth, growth, and progressive development
clamor equally for our attention. So it is for our chapter as well, and I’d like to acquaint you with some of the
opportunities which have been presented to us.
We have completed taping the forum on urban issues in which we examined the legal ramifications of some of
the solutions the city is considering. Our producers are completing the final product which soon will be ready for
distribution. This effort represents an innovative public service, the first of its kind for the chapter and one in
which we can take great pride.
Under the able guidance of Virginia Schlueter, New Orleans will again be the venue for hosting the National
Meeting of the FBA Criminal Law Section and we will host its seminar on May 12, 2006 entitled “The BIG (Not
So) Easy.” A stellar line up of renowned experts will include LCDR Charles Swift, USN, who recently argued
for the petitioner in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld in the U.S. Supreme Court. You won’t want to miss this rare chance
to gain insight into the workings of military law in regard to the status of battlefield detainees and to explore the
broader implications this case may hold for the rule of law. Last year we were treated to an illuminating
presentation on the Booker case which challenged sentencing guidelines. This year’s unique seminar continues
the trend in which we set the standard for thought-provoking content.
Finally, Sen. David Vitter has agreed to address the annual meeting this summer, affording us an unusual
opportunity to hear a first-hand report on efforts in Washington to assist in rebuilding our community. This will be
another “first,” as it is the first time a U.S. Senator has addressed the annual meeting. Information as to the
annual luncheon will be furnished as soon as the final arrangements have been completed.
It is true that these are uncertain, unsettled times and, thus, they are arguably the worst of times. Yet they are
times laden with a rich cargo of hope and possibility, challenge and achievement. In that sense, they may also be
the best of times–for New Orleans and for our chapter.
2 The Advocate
The Advocate 3
By R. Neal Walker1
Louisiana Capital Assistance Center - A Non-Profit Law Office
For several hundred Orleans preside over the hearings) ordered the (E.D. La.). While the petitioners were
Parish prisoners detained in dozens of release of all detainees arrested for incarcerated in prisons located within
maximum security prisons in north and misdemeanors or non-violent felonies, the Middle and Western Districts of
central Louisiana in the fall of 2006, it finding that their continued detention Louisiana, the action was properly filed
seemed like due process took a without charge violated their due in the Eastern District since the
holiday, and a long one at that, process rights and warranted habeas petitioners’ cases were pending in the
extending well through the Christmas relief. Criminal District Court for the Parish
season. Indeed, like the alleged enemy of Orleans. 28 U.S.C § 2241(d);
The Orleans Parish District
combatants at Guantanamo Bay, these Braden v. 30th Judicial Cir. Ct., 410
Attorney’s Office opposed the release
prisoners suffered protracted detention U.S. 484 (1973).
of any of these prisoners, even those
without charge, without access to
charged with misdemeanors, and The petition argued that the
courts and without counsel, hundreds
secured a stay of the release orders in continued confinement of the prisoners
of miles from New Orleans.
the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the violated their rights against
Among the thousands of prisoners First Circuit. By this time many of the unreasonable seizures, to due process
evacuated from the flooded Orleans prisoners were being held beyond the of law, to counsel, to a speedy trial, to
Parish Prison complex after Hurricane article 701 time limits, even as be free from excessive bail and to
Katrina made landfall were hundreds interrupted by the governor’s storm- other rights secured by the Fourth,
of prisoners arrested by the New related order suspending prescription Sixth and Eighth Amendments to the
Orleans Police Department in July and and other legal deadlines. Ultimately, United States Constitution. As the
August but not formally charged when the Court of Appeal dissolved the stay petition noted, the Supreme Court has
the storm struck. Many of these and upheld Judge Johnson’s release criticized protracted detentions without
prisoners were arrested on orders in their entirety. trial in two recent cases. In 2004 “the
misdemeanors and low-grade Supreme Court confirmed the
On November 22, 2005, the
nonviolent felonies. Article 701 B (2) fundamental right of a citizen to be free
Louisiana Supreme Court issued a
of the Louisiana Code of Criminal from involuntary, indefinite confinement
brief per curiam opinion reversing
Procedure provides that the failure to by his government without due
Judge Johnson in part, ordering those
institute prosecution within sixty days process. See Hamdi v.Rumsfeld, 159
arrested for misdemeanors to be
of the date a defendant is arrested on L. Ed. 2d 578, 124 S. Ct. 2633, 2647
released, but giving the prosecution
a felony “shall result in release of the (2004); id. at 2661 (Scalia, J.,
until January 6, 2006, to file formal
defendant if . . . just cause for the failure dissenting); see also Rasul v. Bush,
charges in the remainder of the cases.
is not shown.” In November, a group 159 L. Ed. 2d 548, 124 S. Ct. 2686,
Two justices dissented and would have
of volunteer lawyers filed mass habeas 2692 (2004).” Abu Ali v. Ashcroft,
upheld the release of all the petitioners.
corpus petitions in state district court 350 F. Supp. 2d 28, 30 (D.D.C.
on behalf of several hundred of these The day after Thanksgiving our 2004) (recognizing the “fundamental
detainees arrested for misdemeanors office, the Louisiana Capital Assistance due process rights of a citizen of the
or non-violent, low grade felonies. The Center, filed a habeas corpus petition United States to freedom from arbitrary
vast majority of these prisoners were on behalf of thirty of the detainees detention . . . and to access to the
picked up on warrantless arrests by in federal district court, arguing that courts through the Great Writ of habeas
the NOPD. Following hearings in they were being held “in custody corpus to challenge the legality of that
Baton Rouge, Judge Calvin Johnson, in violation of the Constitution or detention.”). The petition argued that
Chief Judge of the Orleans Parish laws...of the United States.” 28 U.S.C habeas relief was particularly suited to
Criminal District Court (appointed by § 2241(c)(3). Patrick, et al. v.
the Louisiana Supreme Court to Cooper, et al., Civil No.05-6090 R cont’d on page 4
4 The Advocate
BAYOU GUANTANAMO THE FEDERAL BAR
By R. Neal Walker (cont’d from page 3) ASSOCIATION NEW
unlawful detention cases, noting that century which prompted our Founding ORLEANS CHAPTER
“[t]he writ of habeas corpus commands Fathers to defenestrate the British yoke YOUNGER LAWYERS
general recognition as the essential and establish a more enlightened order DIVISION
remedy to safeguard a citizen against as embodied by the Constitution and
imprisonment by State or Nation in its various amendments.”). Historically, ANNOUNCES
violation of his constitutional rights.” the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s
Abu Ali, 350 F. Supp. 2d at 30 office has had a very high refusal rate. THE LUNCH WITH THE
(quoting United States v. Morgan, See Jeff Palmer, Abolishing Plea COURT PROGRAM
346 U.S. 502, 506 n. 3, 98 L. Ed. Bargaining: An End to the Same Old
248, 74 S. Ct. 247 (1954)). In a Song and Dance, 26 Am. J. Crim. L. On April 19, 2006, the Honorable
response, the District Attorney argued 505, 533-534 (Summer, 1999) Edith Brown Clement, Circuit Court
that the petitioners were merely (commenting on the Orleans Parish Judge for the United States Court of
“inconvenienced” by their detentions District Attorney’s refusal procedures). Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, will host a
and could not show that their “Lunch with the Court” in West Con-
The matter came on for hearing on
defenses would be prejudiced by the ference Room #258, second floor at the
December 8, and with Judge Sarah
delays. This betrayed a serious Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals at noon.
Vance’s intervention, the matter was
misunderstanding of the issue, for the Please contact Karen Williams at 504-
settled. The petitioners agreed to
petitioners complained less about the 589-7990 if you wish to attend “Lunch
withdraw the petition in exchange for
effect that their detentions would have with the Court.”
assurances that the prosecution would
on their cases (if indeed they were
screen their cases before December
prosecuted) than on the fact that they The “Lunch with the Court” pro-
were being detained without charge. gram is a project of the Federal Bar
In a traverse, the petitioners argued As noted, the Louisiana Capital Association - Younger Lawyers Divi-
that they were being held in “continuous Assistance Center realized that the sion. “Lunch with the Court” is an op-
detention without charge.” United Orleans Parish D.A.’s office has portunity for members of the Federal
States v. Contreras, 197 F. Supp. 2d historically had a high refusal rate, Bar to interact with the judiciary in a
1173, 1176 (N.D. Iowa 2002) declining to prosecute roughly 25% of setting outside of the formal courtroom.
(ordering indictment dismissed where the cases presented to it by the New
defendant was arrested and detained Orleans Police Department. Hence, it The “Lunch with the Court” pro-
for thirty-one days before charges were was not a surprise that, when gram is free for members of the Fed-
filed in violation of 18 U.S.C. § December 21 arrived, the prosecution eral Bar Association and $10 for non-
3161(b)). “It is the restraint on filed formal charges against only three members of the association.
individual liberty, not merely procedural of the remaining petitioners in Patrick
stagnation following the filing of formal v. Cooper. The remaining ten If you are interested in attending,
charges,” that was the essence of the petitioners – some of whom had been please sign up as soon as possible, as
petitioners’ complaints. Contreras, detained for five months – walked out space is limited to 10 attorneys.
197 F. Supp. 2d at 1176; see also of jail without being charged and were
United States v. Osunde, 638 F. home by Christmas. A small victory,
Supp. 2d 171, 174 (N.D. Ca. 1986) perhaps, but one worth the effort.
(rejecting government’s argument in
favor of protracted detention without 1
The views expressed in this article are strictly
charge as “reminiscent of the those of the author and not of the Federal Bar
governmental powers wielded by Association or its New Orleans chapter.
merry old England in the eighteenth
The Advocate 5
MALCOLM MONROE SEMINAR A SUCCESS
On January 27, 2006, the Younger Lawyers Division of the New Orleans Chap- THE FEDERAL BAR
ter of the Federal Bar Association hosted its annual Malcolm W. Monroe Federal ASSOCIATION
Practice Seminar. Malcolm Monroe offers attorneys a unique opportunity to fulfill NEW ORLEANS
Continuing Legal Education requirements and at the same time obtain admission
to all federal courts in Louisiana, including the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals,
in a joint admission ceremony held at the end of the seminar. In addition, by regis-
tering for the seminar, attendees become members of the Federal Bar Associa-
ASKS YOU TO
This year’s speakers included Judges Berrigan, Barbier, Knowles, Shushan and
SAVE THE DATE!
Africk of the Eastern District of Louisiana, and practitioner Richard Westling, on
topics including Avoiding Rule 11 Sanctions, Law Practice Management, Profes-
sionalism, and The Role of the District and Magistrate Judges. ANNUAL
The seminar is aimed at new lawyers and is usually held in the fall. Due to
hurricane Katrina the seminar was moved to the January date and was scaled JUNE 30, 2006
down to a 4 hour seminar rather than the usual 7 hours. We were also forced to
react quickly when, on the morning of the seminar, a major plumbing leak was
discovered in the Eastern District of Louisiana Courthouse. With the help of the
Clerks of Court for the Eastern District and the Fifth Circuit, we were able to
relocate the seminar across the street to the Courthouse for the Fifth Circuit
Court of Appeals. Attendees were successfully notified of the change of venue
and we did not lose any attendance.
To our surprise and pleasure, we ended up with 157 registrants for this year’s
post-Katrina seminar, up from 129 registrants in November 2004.
Our chapter welcomed 24 current FBA members to the event and enrolled 133
new members. SPEAKER:
SENATOR DAVID VITTER
BENCH BAR 2006 LOCATION:
to be announced
Work is tentatively scheduled to begin on the
Bench Bar 2006 Habitat for Humanity House on Saturday, May 13, 2006.
If interested in participating contact alee @joneswalker.com
6 The Advocate
JUDGE ALVIN B. RUBIN SYMPOSIUM TO BE HELD MAY 18
The New Orleans Chapter of the Federal Bar Association will host its 14th Annual Judge Alvin B. Rubin Symposium on Ethics and
Professionalism in the ceremonial courtroom at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana on Thursday, May
18, 2006 from 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. This symposium is held each year as a living memorial to the late Judge Rubin’s contributions to federal
jurisprudence and legal scholarship. This year’s topic focuses on the attorney-client privilege and will address issues such as inadvert-
ent disclosure, proper invocation of privilege, and discovery of electronic information. Seminar attendees may obtain continuing legal
education credit in both ethics and professionalism.
Federal Bar Association New Orleans Chapter
Fourteenth Annual Judge Alvin B. Rubin Symposium
THURSDAY, MAY 18, 2006, 2:00 - 4:00 P.M.
FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT, EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
500 POYDRAS STREET, CEREMONIAL COURTROOM, 5TH FLOOR
An Annual Panel Discussion on Aspects of Federal Law or Federal Practice
Held as a Living Memorial to Judge Rubin’s Contribution to Federal Jurisprudence and Legal Scholarship.
TOPIC: A PANDORA’S BOX: THE ATTORNEY CLIENT PRIVILEGE
ETHICS AND PROFESSIONALISM CREDIT HOURS (2.0 HOURS TOTAL)
PANELISTS: DISTRICT JUDGE CARL J. BARBIER, U.S. DISTRICT COURT, EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
MAGISTRATE JUDGE JOSEPH C. WILKINSON,JR., U.S. DISTRICT COURT,EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
THOMAS M. FLANAGAN, STANLEY, FLANAGAN & REUTER
DONNA PHILLIPS CURRAULT, GORDON, ARATA, MCCOLLAM, DUPLANTIS & EAGAN
MODERATORS: DISTRICT JUDGE SARAH S. VANCE, U.S. DISTRICT COURT, EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
JAMES M. GARNER, SHER GARNER CAHILL RICHTER KLEIN & HILBERT
FEDERAL LAW SYMPOSIUM REGISTRATION FORM
THURSDAY, MAY 18, 2006, 2:00 - 4:00 P.M.
FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT, EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
500 POYDRAS STREET, CEREMONIAL COURTROOM, 5TH FLOOR
# OF PLACES_____(FBA MEMBERS $20 EACH) _____ (NON-MEMBERS $40 EACH)
_____ (DISCOUNT FEE OF $15 FOR FEDERAL JUDICIAL LAW CLERKS, STAFF ATTORNEYS
AND OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AGENCY ATTORNEYS)
PLEASE RETURN THIS FORM
AND REMITTANCE TO: KAREN WILLIAMS
ATTORNEY CONFERENCE CENTER
HALE BOGGS FEDERAL BUILDING, ROOM 364
MAKE CHECKS 500 POYDRAS STREET, NEW ORLEANS, LA 70130
PAYABLE TO THE FBA PHONE: (504)589-7990
The Advocate 7
NEW ORLEANS LAWYERS ATTEND FBA’S MIDYEAR MEETING
Several federal New Orleans lawyers flew to Washington, D.C. last month
for the FBA’s Midyear Meeting. The New Orleans Chapter, the largest in the
FBA, was well represented, as lawyers participated in the Sections and Divi-
sions meetings, Chapter Leadership Training Program, FBA’s Foundation
and the Midyear National Council meeting. Those in attendance were Ashley
Belleau, Deputy Secretary of National FBA, Matthew Moreland, Young Law-
yers Division Chair, Virginia Laughlin Schlueter, Criminal Law Section Chair,
Patrick O’Keefe, Chapter President, Mike Ellis, Foundation Historian. Robin
Spalter, a former New Orleans officer who currently serves as President of the Foundation President and 5th Circuit Vice President,
FBA , together with Patrick O’Keefe and Matthew Moreland judged the Moot Baton Rouge lawyer David Guerry,
Vice-President Paul Wallace, and Historian Mike Ellis
Court Final Competition involving 22 law schools from across the country.
The Foundation’s mission is to foster improvements in the practice of
federal law and to facilitate the administration of justice. One of the present
initiatives for the Foundation is the Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief Fund,
established to provide funds to support legal assistance and/or professional
support for those affected by this tragedy. A special presentation was made
to the FBA’s Past President, Tom Schuck, by the New Orleans Chapter in
grateful appreciation of the support given to local lawyers following Hurri-
cane Katrina. The Midyear meeting included a luncheon at which all the
Sections and Division Leaders networked.
Ashley Belleau & Past President Tom Schuck
Section Chairs regular meeting
8 The Advocate
TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS: CASE REPORTS
SUMMARY OF RECENT CIVIL AND sustained after the starboard engine of Following a two week trial, the jury
CRIMINAL VERDICTS IN THE the push boat failed while he was at- returned a verdict for the defendant.
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
tempting to abort the crossing of a large The jury found that Merck was not
CIVIL CASES ship. Plaintiff maintained that, as a re- negligent in designing or marketing
sult of the stalled engine, the ship struck Vioxx, did not fail to warn of Vioxx’s
the tow being pushed by the push boat, side effects, and did not defectively
Gerard Gisclair v. Larry Griffin and the collision caused plaintiffs to be design Vioxx.
Towing Co. et al., 05-833, Section thrown about the wheelhouse.
L (Jury trial held March 27, 2006)
In July 2005, a jury initially returned
Judy Jordan et al. v. Transport Ser-
Marine Personal Injury/Jones Act an inconsistent verdict, finding that the
vices Specialist, Inc., 04-1102, Sec-
employer’s negligence was not the
The captain of a tow boat sued the tion D (Jury trial held August 15, 2005)
proximate cause of the injuries, but
shipowner and operator for negligence,
nonetheless assigning the employer Personal Injury/Motor Vehicle Acci-
unseaworthiness, and maintenance and dent
20% of the fault. After receiving in-
cure. The captain claimed he had in-
structions from the Court on the incon-
jured his shoulder in three separate in- The plaintiff maintained she was injured
sistencies in the verdict, the jury fur-
cidents: when he cranked a winch, when an 18-wheeler struck a public
ther deliberated and found that the
when he exited a manhole, and when transportation bus in which the plain-
employer’s negligence was a proxi-
he slipped and fell in the engine room. tiff was a passenger. The 18-wheeler
mate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
The defendants had paid maintenance, stipulated to liability, but disputed the
The total to plaintiff from the jury was
but had refused to pay cure. extent of plaintiff’s injuries. Plaintiff
claimed she suffered a torn rotator cuff
The jury returned a verdict for the de-
The December 2005 bench trial ad- or at least aggravation of a pre-exist-
fendants on liability, but awarded ing torn rotator cuff.
dressed only the plaintiff’s claim for
$3,980 in maintenance and $22,836
maintenance and cure. The Court
in cure to the plaintiff. The Court en- The jury awarded $11,493, which con-
awarded $2,368 in maintenance and
tered judgment as a matter of law for sisted of $10,000 for pain and suffer-
$5,693 in cure together with pre-judg-
the defendants finding no evidence of ing and $1,493 for past lost wages.
ment interest. There was no award of
arbitrary, capricious, or wanton con- Plaintiff had sought roughly $90,000
attorney’s fees or punitive damages.
duct in defendants’ failure to pay main- in damages.
tenance and cure.
Evelyn Irvin Plunkett v. Merck &
Co., Inc., 05-4046, Section L (Jury
Eric Blackwell v. Mid-Stream Fuel
trial held February 6-17, 2006)
Svc, et al., 04-1686, c/w 04-1930,
Section L (Bench trial held December Products Liability
22, 2005) The widow of a man who died from a
Marine Personal Injury/Jones Act heart attack sued the manufacturer of
the drug Vioxx. The plaintiff claimed
The captain of a push boat sued his
Vioxx had caused her husband’s death.
employer and the vessel owner for neck
and back injuries he claimed to have
The Advocate 9
CLERK’S CORNER The Federal Bar Association
by Honorable Loretta G. Whyte welcomes its new members:
Gainsburgh Benjamin David
ELECTRONIC FILING UPDATE Meunier et al
Well, it is finally here! After a long period of preparation and several Devin Morris
delays, the Eastern District of Louisiana is ready for electronic filing. Taylor Wellons Politz & Duhe
The court will be conducting training sessions at the courthouse twice
a day for the forseeable future. Lawyers must attend one of the ses-
sions in order to receive their passwords and be authorized to file elec-
tronically. You are welcome to bring one member of your staff with you ATTORNEYS
and we will also offer classes for additional staff as soon as possible. ON THE MOVE
As an added bonus, the classes will be approved for CLE credit, and
of course, there is no charge. Valerie T. Schexnayder, Esq. has opened the
firm of deLaup & Schexnayder, LLC. The
firm is located at 110 Veterans Memorial Blvd.,
You are invited to sign up for this training at www.laed.uscourts.gov.
Suite 535, Metairie, LA 70005.
You should review the information posted on the court’s website be- Any member of the Federal Bar Association
wishing to announce a move or professional
fore coming to training. You will also want to make sure that your office
intention should contact an FBA Board
equipment conforms to the technical requirements for electronic filing.
member, or Karen Williams at the Attorney
It will also be helpful for you to be familiar with the Administrative Conference Center (504-589-7990) with the
Procedures adopted by the court to assure effective operation of the appropriate information. Consider this an
system. These procedures can be found on the court’s website at added benefit of FBA membership.
Don’t forget to visit our website at www.nofba.org
10 The Advocate
NEW ORLEANS FBA HOSTS FORUM
ON NEW ORLEANS RECOVERY ISSUES
On January 31, 2006 the Chapter hosted a spirited dialogue on urban issues confronting the restoration of New
Orleans at WWL-TV. The program, which was taped in the studio, featured a panel of experts from disciplines as
diverse as housing, labor, education, public health, tourism and legal services. Moderated by broadcast veteran
Charles Zewe, the panel discussed the many connected issues which confront not only the rejuvenation of the city
but the path to its improvement. To keep the discussion moving, Judge Sarah Vance was stationed in the control
booth and Chapter members posed questions to the panel following their responses to topical questions presented
by Mr. Zewe.
The ninety-minute program was edited by a team headed by Chief Judge Berrigan and the resulting one-hour final
product was polished by WWL to include introductory music and closing credits. We intend to make the program
available to public broadcasters free of charge, as a public service. Funding for broadcast expenses on network
television is being solicited as well. Look for this program, entitled “Issues and Information,” to appear in the near
The Advocate 11
THE BANKRUPTCY BEAT
The main themes of the last article that I wrote for the FBA in After October 17, 2005, our
March 2005 were change, and how interesting it is to be the clerk case filings plummeted to less
of the bankruptcy court. These themes have continued in full than 75 per month for the months
force during the last year. of November 2005 through Feb-
ruary 2006, and increased only
I get frequent questions these days about the number of slightly to 185 cases in March
bankruptcy cases that have been filed post-Katrina and the 2006. This trend has also been
effect on case filings of the changes to the bankruptcy laws that experienced nationwide. It is,
became effective in October 2005. of course, related to the huge
number of filings made prior to
After Hurricane Katrina struck, the Bankruptcy Court for the BAPCPA’s effective date. Our
Eastern District of Louisiana opened up temporary offices in the filings may be even a bit slower
“old” federal building in Baton Rouge. Our offices were in the to rebound than other courts
same building and adjacent to the Bankruptcy Court for the because many of the mortgage
Middle District of Louisiana. Its help was critical post-Katrina companies have thus far been holding off on filing foreclosure
because we were able to combine computer systems, personnel, proceedings since Katrina.
and resources in an efficient way so as to expedite the opening
of our court. I am proud to report that because of the initiative, A positive piece of good new for the bankruptcy court and
dedication, and determination of our employees, we were able to bankruptcy attorneys – where bankruptcy filings are good
open up the court for electronic filing (“ECF”) on September 15, news – is that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts
2005. projects that nationwide, bankruptcy filings will be fairly close
to pre-BAPCPA filings by January or February, 2007. It is
Electronic case filing was a godsend during our stay in Baton problematical what the filings in our district will be because of
Rouge. It allowed attorneys to file remotely from wherever they the effects of Katrina.
happened to be. Moreover, it provided them with notification of
case events by email at a time when the U.S. Mail was unreliable. So, times have been interesting in the bankruptcy court. We
If ever the advantages of electronic case filing were apparent, it have seen many changes recently and expect many more
was in the aftermath of Katrina. changes in the future as BAPCPA is implemented. We are still
in the process of modifying our procedures as new issues are
It was a good thing we were up and running by mid- raised under BAPCPA.
September because the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and
Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (“BAPCPA”) became In closing, the bankruptcy court website is located at:
effective on October 17, 2005. This law enacted the most http://www.laeb.uscourts.gov. We make a concerted effort to
sweeping change to the Bankruptcy Code since 1978. The Act keep it current – it contains a lot of useful information. Also, as
greatly increased the court’s work load in the month before it we prepare for our upcoming hurricane season, practitioners
became effective, as shown by our case filings. For each year should be aware that we will put any cancellations of court
from 2001 through 2004, the annual filings for our court have hearings on the website, and will also send an email to our
been approximately 10,000 cases.1 Thus, we have, on average, attorney list. So, remember to keep your email address current!
typically received 833 new bankruptcy files per month. During You won’t get our email notices if we don’t have your address.
the period from October 1, through October 17, 2005, however,
we had 3,643 filings.2 Put another way, we had a little over one- 1
Recent total case filings:
third of our average yearly case filings during the first two and 2001 - 10,113;
one-half weeks of October 2005! To say we were busy is an 2002 - 9,512;
understatement. 2003 - 9,942; and
2004 - 9,658.
All bankruptcy courts around the country experienced similar The 2005 case filings ended up to be 11,642.
surges in filings. We referred to these cases as they were
working their way through the system as the “pig going through
the python”. Our filings in anticipation of BAPCPA’s effective
date might have actually been higher because many evacuated
debtors from the New Orleans area filed for bankruptcy
protection in other courts, mainly Baton Rouge, Houston,
Dallas, and Atlanta.
12 The Advocate
Federal Bar Association FIRST CLASS MAIL
New Orleans Chapter PAID
PERMIT NO. 365
c/o Patrick E. O’Keefe
NEW ORLEANS, LA
500 Poydras St., Room 364
New Orleans, LA 70130
Interested in becoming a member of
the Federal Bar Association?
Federal Bar Association
1815 H Street, N.W., Suite 408
Washington, D.C. 20006-3697
Stevan C. Dittmann
c/o Attorney Conference Center
500 Poydras Street, Room 364
Hale Boggs Federal Building
New Orleans, LA 70130
Membership fee of $125 includes both national
and chapter membership in the FBA. You can
apply online at www.fedbar.org.
EDITORIAL BOARD: Barry W. Ashe and Valerie T. Schexnayder