A newly released report questions the activist tendencies of one of Louisiana's regional appellate courts, where a number of rulings seem to ignore well-established legal statutes in an apparent attempt to manipulate the law to achieve preferred outcomes.
Louisiana's 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal, which has jurisdiction in an area that stretches across Lafayette and Lake Charles and from Cameron to Natchitoches, has the role of reviewing the legality of procedures and interpretation by lower courts. Released by the nonpartisan citizen watchdog group Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch, the report unveils a series of shocking decisions where the 3rd Circuit has apparently ventured outside of this narrowly defined role by attempting to create new law through the judicial process, rather than interpret existing law and precedents.
Data from the report also shows that the Louisiana Supreme Court has overturned more rulings in civil cases from the 3rd Circuit than any other appellate court in the state. Of all the circuit court decisions in civil cases that have been reversed by the state's high court since 2008, nearly 40% originated from the 3rd Circuit.
The notion of "separation of powers" is a fundamental principle of our democracy, both at the state and national levels. Under this doctrine, which is codified in our state and national constitutions, laws are passed by the legislature and enforced by the executive branch. What happens when the lines between the branches of government and the powers reserved for each become blurred? Do we really want judges establishing policy from the bench without the benefit of public hearings that are inherent and fundamental to the legislative process?
"Scary" and "shocking" may be good adjectives for Halloween, but they are words we'd rather not associate with any of Louisiana's courts.
Executive director of Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch