Title page for ETD etd-04282010-153305

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author McCowan, III, Charles Simon
Author's Email Address trey.mccowan@keanmiller.com
URN etd-04282010-153305
Title The Impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the Louisiana Judicial System
Degree Master of Science (M.S.)
Department Environmental Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Wascom, Michael Committee Chair
Lam, Nina Committee Member
Reams, Margaret Committee Member
  • Hurricane Katrina
  • Hurricane Rita
  • Louisiana Judicial System
Date of Defense 2010-04-01
Availability unrestricted
This thesis is a case study of the impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the Louisiana court system and the response of the court system to the aftermath of these two hurricanes. Although this thesis focuses on one stateís court systemís response to two natural disasters, the research, conclusions and recommendations are transferable to other states.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the Gulf Coast in 2005 devastating large areas in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama. Millions of people, including judges and attorneys, were forced to evacuate their homes, courts and law offices. The Hurricanes caused interruptions to both federal and state courts in Louisiana.

Existing literature, both published and unpublished, was reviewed to determine how courts have responded to natural and man-made disasters in the past. Interviews with court personnel in Louisiana were conducted and available publications were reviewed to determine how courts in Louisiana were impacted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and how these courts responded to the aftermath of these two hurricanes.

The broad geographic scope of the damage from the hurricanes created impediments to rapid resumption of court operations; however courts in Louisiana were able to resume most operations within a matter of months. Since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, both federal and state courts in Louisiana have refined their emergency preparedness plans; however, further improvements are warranted.

This thesis examines the impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the Louisiana court system and concludes with several recommendations for future emergency preparedness of the courts including implementation of electronic filing and record management systems, passage of legislation providing for extra-territorial exercise of jurisdiction in civil proceedings and additional training for stakeholders to better prepare for emergency conditions.

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