State/Local Funding

  • The Louisiana Judiciary has a mix of state and local funding. 
  • The state pays for the appellate courts, the administrative office of the courts, and for the salaries of the trial court judges.  Trial court clerical and support staff, technology, operating expenses, courthouses and equipment are funded locally.
  • Louisiana’s judicial branch is non-unified.  Accordingly, the responses to many of the questions in this survey are reflective of the operations of the Supreme Court (including the Judicial Administrator’s office and several other state-level judicial branch entities) and the intermediate courts of appeal only.  The operations of the state’s trial courts and other lower courts are generally funded by local government.
  • Information from lower courts relating to budgets and operations is not available and not included in survey responses unless otherwise indicated.

State Revenue and Appropriations

  • The state general fund appropriation increased from $159 million in FY12 to $163 million in FY13.  The percent of state general funds allocated to the judiciary is less than ½ of 1%.
  • The increase of $3.9 million was used to fund mandated increases in the employer contribution rates to the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System.
  • The budget situation in the next three years is likely to stay the same.

Funding Principles for Judicial Administration

  • The Judicial Branch submits its budget directly to the Legislative Branch. 
  • The Judiciary has the authority to move funds between Judiciary programs.
  • The budget enables the court to provide and enhance needed technology.

            1) Funds are available to support upgrades and changes to hardware and software in the Supreme Court, its several divisions and departments, and its closely affiliated entities.  Information regarding technology budgets in the lower courts is unavailable.

Steps Taken to Address Tough Economic Times

Staffing Levels and Operating Expenses: 

  • Over the past four years and in the coming year, the number of judges has and will remain the same.  The number of central office staff has and will increase by 1%.

Service Reductions:  Over the past four years, the Louisiana Judiciary has delayed filling vacancies in the Supreme Court Clerk’s office and in Supreme Court judicial support positions.  They have reduced the use of retired judges.

Compensation:  Over the past four years, the Louisiana Judiciary has frozen the salaries of Supreme Court state-paid staff.

Efficiency Measures:  The Louisiana Supreme Court has implemented e-filing, an electronic document management system and an enhanced case management system and electronic workflow.  They have implemented e-payment of fines and fees.  The Supreme Court has deployed an Enterprise Resource Plan.

  • Several lower courts have taken steps through the use of technology generally and the initiatives listed above specifically to increase their efficiency.  The AOC is unaware of the scope and deployment status of these projects and initiatives.

Restructuring:  It is possible that lower courts have taken steps to increase efficiency through consolidation or reduction of positions, reallocation of staff and/or the use of part-time and off-hour workers, although we are unaware of the scope and impact of such steps.

The Louisiana courts are in a better position than four years ago to provide access and timely justice.  The Supreme Court and courts around the state work to identify and share information about process improvements on an ongoing basis.  At the Supreme Court, for example, a new Enterprise Resource Plan has been implemented.  In addition, since 2009 the Court has established task forces or committees dealing with self-represented litigants, court security, uniform rules, plain language jury instructions, and other topics.  The work of these groups is likely to translate into better and more responsive policies and practices in courts around the state.

Reports and Articles

Gavel to Gavel

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