Like the United States as a whole, the state of Louisiana has its own supreme court to hear cases appealed through the state court system. And as with the federal Supreme Court, the state Supreme Court does not hear all cases appealed to it. The justices on the court generally follow certain criteria to determine if they take up a case.
The Louisiana Supreme Court website elaborates on what justices look for in granting appeals. Sometimes the court must hear a case if it falls within certain guidelines, such as when a lower court sentenced a person to death. The court will also hear any case involving disciplinary actions imposed against attorneys and judges. Additionally, the court will hear a case that has declared an ordinance or a law unconstitutional.
The court is not obligated to hear any other case. Whether the state Supreme Court does hear an appeal is entirely at the discretion of the court. To hear an appeal, the court must grant an application for writs to review it with the consent of a majority of the justices. Even though the court may hear an appeal for various reasons, there are a number of common rationales why a court may hear an appeal.
In some cases, the court will step in when a lower court case involves an issue of law that requires resolution. Decisions in some cases are based upon previous rulings of the state Supreme Court, and the current justices may want to revisit those rulings. Sometimes a lower court decision conflicts with other rulings from other courts on the same legal question and the state Supreme Court wishes to resolve the matter.
The Louisiana Supreme Court might also decide to hear an appeal if the case misapplies the state constitution, state law, or federal law. If the decision in the case is not reversed, it could result in material injustice or cause harm to the public interest. Sometimes a lower court abuses its authority or decides a case in a way that strongly deviates from established judicial proceedings, in which case the state Supreme Court may intervene.
This article is intended only for the educational benefit of the reader. Do not interpret it as legal advice.