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Justice of the Peace Court: What You Need to Know

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Justices of the peace have no criminal jurisdiction, except as committing magistrates and for the issuance of peace bonds.

They have original civil jurisdiction in cases up to $5,000. The justice of the peace court has "concurrent" jurisdiction with the judicial district court, meaning a lawsuit for a case up to $5,000 can be filed in either the justice of the peace court or in a judicial district court. However, justices of the peace are NOT allowed to decide lawsuits involving title to real estate, the right to public office, divorce proceedings, suits against public bodies and executory proceedings.

There are 10 regions in Louisiana where Justice of the peace courts can be found. 

Justices of the peace have been abolished in wards where city courts exist. Nevertheless, there are some 390 justices of the peace in Louisiana.

Map of Louisiana demarcating the 10 justice of the peace regions


What are the benefits of filing suit in a Justice of the Peace Court?

Justice of the Peace courts are an option for settling claims that do not exceed $5,000 (the amount in dispute.) A citizen may choose to utilize them because they are less costly and civil disputes are resolved more quickly in a Justice of the Peace court as opposed to District Court.

What is “amount in dispute”and what does it include?

The amount in dispute is determined by the plaintiff in good faith and does NOT include: interest, court costs, attorney fees, or penalties.  

What sorts of claims are handled in Justice of the Peace courts?

   1. Suits for the possession or ownership of movable property not exceeding $5,000;

   2. Suits by landowners or lessors for the eviction of occupants or tenants of leased commercial premises and farmlands where the amount of the monthly rental does not exceed $5,000, regardless of the amount of the rent due or the rent for the unexpired term of the lease; and

   3. Suits by landowners or lessors for the eviction of occupants or tenants of leased residential premises, regardless of the amount of rent due or the rent for the unexpired term of the lease.

What Types of cases are NOT handled in Justice of the Peace courts?

 Any Case about:

   1. Title to property that can't be moved (like a house)

   2. The right to public office or position

   3. A civil rights violation

   4. A claim for the annulment of marriage, separation from bed and board, divorce, separation of property, or alimony

   5. Any succession, interdiction, receivership, liquidation, habeas corpus, or quo warrantor cases

   6. If the state, parish, municipal, or other political corporation is a defendant

   7. An executory proceeding

   8. Adoption, tutorship, emancipation or partition

   9. Any in rem or quasi in rem proceedings (lawsuits against property, not against people)



The Legal Education and Assistance Program (LEAP) is a project sponsored by the Louisiana State Bar Association, with the support of the Louisiana Library Association, the Law Library of Louisiana, LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, and Acadiana Legal Services. LEAP aims to provide support and assistance to public librarians throughout the state by providing them with the tools to help their patrons with their legal questions. LEAP understands that librarians are prohibited from providing legal advice, but instead helps them provide legal information, including referrals to attorneys.

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