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Louisiana Small Claims Court

This guide provides some general information about Small Claims Court in Louisiana.

Bringing your papers to the courthouse.

Your papers must be filed in court.

Note: the Small Claims Court computer forms package includes a range of forms for different situations. If you are not sure which of the forms to create or use, stop and try to get a lawyer to help you.

You will file the "original" form. The original form is the one you actually signed, not a copy.

Make copies of your signed form before you go to court with your papers.

If you do not know how many copies you need, call the Clerk of Court's office to ask.  Note: many Justice of the Peace Courts may not have an actual Clerk of Court -- the court may be staffed by only the Justice of the Peace on his or her own. Go here for a link to the Justices of the Peace & Constables Directory on the site of the Louisiana Attorney General.

You will need to serve a copy of the papers on each party or government office that needs to be served.

You will also need a copy to ask the court to stamp when you file your papers. You will keep this stamped copy for your records.

You may need one or more extra copies in addition to your original for the court, too.

Go to the court clerk's office with your signed original and all of the copies you need.

When you file the original papers, ask the Clerk of Court’s office to stamp your copies for your records.

Tips for filing your papers:

If you have been to court before, tell the Clerk of Court’s office. Then the clerk can look up your case information and put the right case number on your paperwork. If you are filing papers in a case that already exists, you can ask the clerk for the case number and other information, such as which division, section or judge the case is assigned to.

If this is the first time coming to court, the Clerk of Court’s office will give your case a number and write it at the top of the papers you are filing with the court.

Depending on the size of your court, the clerk may also assign your case to a court judge or division or section (such as A, B, C, or D).

Write down and keep your case number and any information about the judge or division or section it is assigned to. You will need this information to check up on your case.

Filing Fees.

Filing court papers costs money.

Find out before you come to court how much it will cost to file and serve your papers. Find out how the court accepts payment. For example you need to know if you can use cash, if you can use a check, or if you can use a credit card or debit card.  

The Clerk of Court’s office can tell you how much the fees are.

If you cannot pay to file your papers, you can ask the court to let you file "In Forma Pauperis." This is sometimes called "IFP" too. There is a special form to ask the court to do this. This form asks the court to let you go ahead and file your other papers without paying in advance, or "up front."  There is also an online form for asking the court to let you go ahead with your case without paying court costs in advance. The form is posted to the website of the Louisiana Supreme Court at this link here. 

The court may say yes or may say no. Even if the court says yes to the In Forma Pauperis request, you still have to pay your court costs when the case is over unless you win. In Forma Pauperis does not mean that you will never have to pay court costs..

Serving your papers. 

Your court papers must be "served" on the person on the other side of your case (the "adverse" party) and on the government office relevant to your case (see the model form). This resource does not go into the details of serving court papers.

The clerk of court may be able to provide more information about getting your papers served. Service is typically done by the sheriff's office.   

Your court hearing.

Ask the clerk of court when and how you will find out about your court hearing. You may need to check back with the clerk of court to see if your case has been scheduled for a hearing. You may also need to check with the constable’s office to see if your papers were served on everyone who needed to be served.

Do not wait for your hearing date to get together your evidence. You need to bring your evidence and witnesses with you to the hearing.

If you get a hearing date, mark it down!

Plan ahead for your court date. 

Get to court on time. If you are late, the court could throw out your case. The court might go ahead without you and rule against you.

This resource does not talk about the details of evidence.  The Louisiana District Judges Association has a video that talks about presenting evidence in court.

This resource does not talk about the details of going to court on your own. There are videos and guides on and on the site of the Louisiana District Judges Association that can help prepare you to appear in court.