Small Claims

Jurisdiction of the Justice of the Peace Court (LSA-CCP Art. 4911 et seq, LSA-R.S. 13:XXXX et seq)

Justice of the Peace Courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.  Meaning, the ability to file suit in JOP Court will depend on the nature of the relief sought, the principal amount being sued for, the type of parties involved, and so forth.  There are six JOP Courts in East Baton Rouge Parish, generally described as Ward 2 District 1 in the north-central part of the parish (Pride), Ward 2 District 2 in the Zachary area, Ward 2 District 2 in the north-central part of the parish (Pride), Ward 2 District 3 in south Baker/ north Baton Rouge area, Ward 3 District 1 in the Central area, Ward 3 District 2 in the southeastern part of the parish, and Ward 3 District 3 in the southern part of the parish.  The territorial limits of the courts were set in 1980.  Over time, some parts of the parish have been annexed into various cities.  Therefore, in some areas, a claimant may seek redress in either a city court or JOP court.  A link to the Justice of the Peace Courts and their boundaries is located at the EBRP GIS portal at Districts Maps

The personal jurisdiction of JOP Courts is concurrent with the state district court, the 19th Judicial District Court.  However, JOP Courts do not have subject matter jurisdiction in actions involving title to immoveable property, family law matters, successions, and so forth.  Cases in JOP Court typically involve contract disputes, minor damage to person or property, and evictions.  The principal amount in dispute can not exceed $5,000.

How Do I File A Claim

JOP Court is user-friendly.  An attorney is not required.  The court can accept claims verbally, but usually, the court will ask a claimant to file written pleadings.  Forms typically include a Statement of Claim, Answer, and Petition of Eviction.  While the JOP can not give legal advice, he or she can provide information on filing procedures.  Please do not attempt to give the JOP a detailed explanation of your claim so as to try and prejudice the JOP.  You will have an opportunity at a hearing to present your evidence and testimony.

What Happens After I File A Claim

Once a claim is filed, the JOP will prepare a Citation to accompany your Statement of Claim, and the Constable will attempt to serve the other party with the pleadings.  Once served, the opposing party has ten (10) days to file an Answer or Reconventional Demand.  Presuming a claim is answered and denied, either party may ask the court to set the dispute for a hearing, and the court will set a trial date within 45 days of the request.  If the opposing party doesn’t file an Answer within ten (10) days, the claimant may appear and present evidence and testimony to obtain a default judgment. 

What If I Don’t Agree With The Judgment of the Court

If a judgment is issued, either party may file an appeal within fifteen (15) days of the judgment by filing a motion and order of appeal in the JOP Court AND by filing the appeal with the Clerk of Court for the 19th Judicial District Court, along with the appropriate court costs.  The 19th Judicial District Court will then hear the case de novo (from scratch as there is no recorded transcript from the JOP Court) and make a decision.  There is no appeal from the 19th Judicial District Court.

How Do I Collect Any Money Awarded By The Court

In Louisiana, there are essentially three ways to collect on a money judgment:  Record the judgment in the mortgage records of a parish.  It becomes a judicial mortgage against any immovable property owned by the debtor.  Second, to garnish rights and property in the hands of a third party owed to the debtor.  Usually this involves garnishing wages or seizing a bank account.  The last way is to seize, store and sell non-exempt property of the debtor.  The JOP can assist you in all three ways to collect any money you are owed.

What About Criminal Matters

Justices of the Peace are committing magistrates but must be approved to sign off on arrest and search warrants.  In East Baton Rouge Parish, most criminal matters are handled by the Sheriff’s office and District Attorney’s office.  JOP Courts can handle litter violations and a few other minor offenses.