SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The past two days, snow and frigid cold have closed parish and city courthouses across the ArkLaTex. Those closures causing stress for some people, especially defendants in criminal and traffic matters, who are now uncertain of when they must next appear in court.
"If you have a lawyer, contact him or her," said J. Antonio Florence, a defense attorney in Shreveport. "Ask when you go back for your next court date. Whether you have a court-appointed attorney or you hired a lawyer, call."
That is important because some cases will automatically reset the first-day court reopens. If you do not have an attorney, Florence advises going to the district or city attorney's office as soon as they reopen, and seek to reschedule in person. Florence says it should save you time and stress.
"If that happens, many people will be hit up with bench warrants for their arrest, because they didn't know and didn't show up in court," Florence said.
People could also contact the parish or city attorney's office by phone, but Florence warns that may not be the best course of action.
"It's going to be hectic, they will be overwhelmed with calls," Florence said.
Same goes for the clerk of court's office.
"You are going to spend a long time on hold if you do that, a lot of folks will be calling."
In many cases, Florence says defense attorneys will reach out to the prosecuting attorney, and work to reschedule the court date. Some lawyers like Florence are already making those calls.
"I had five cases docketed this week canceled by weather," Florence said. "Soon as this ice melts today, I am going to my office and start working to reschedule them and contact my clients."
Finally, many clerks of court, as well as prosecuting agencies are posting on social media, when they plan to reopen. Checking those pages can help you learn when to go in and check on the status of your case.