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Terrebonne Parish Branch NAACP v. Jindal

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

November 1, 2017

TERREBONNE PARISH BRANCH NAACP, ET AL.
v.
PIYUSH "BOBBY" JINDAL, THE GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF LOUISIANA, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY, ET AL.

          RULING [1]

          JAMES J. BRADY JUDGE

         On September 14, 2017, the Defendants, Jeff Landry, in his official capacity as Attorney General of Louisiana, and John Bel Edwards, in his official capacity as Governor of Louisiana, filed a Notice of Appeal with the Fifth Circuit of this Court's August 17, 2017 Ruling, wherein this Court found that the use of an at-large voting system in the 32nd JDC violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the United States Constitution, and this Court's September 12, 2017 Minute Entry[2] Subsequently, on September 22, 2017, Defendants filed a Motion to Stay Order on Terrebonne Parish's At-Large 32nd Judicial District Court Pending Appeal pursuant to Rule 62(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.[3] The Motion is opposed.[4]

         Rule 62(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a court to stay an injunction pending appeal.[5] In this case, the Defendants are not arguing that the Court expressly ordered any injunctive relief its August 17, 2017 Ruling or its September 22, 2017 Minute Entry.[6] Rather, the Defendants contend that because the Court's Ruling and Minute Entry have the "practical effect" of an injunction, a stay is warranted under Rule 62(c).[7] For the following reasons, the Court finds that Rule 62(c) is inapplicable here.

         The Court's August 17, 2017 Ruling strictly dealt with the issue of liability, and did not order any party or other entity (i.e., Louisiana Legislature) to take any immediate remedial action.[8] As reflected in the Minute Entrylrorn the September 12, 2017 Status Conference, the Court has yet to determine what remedial action would be appropriate.[9]During the conference, the Court requested proposals from the parties regarding the appropriate remedy for the Court and the Legislature to take. The Plaintiffs were given 40 days to file their proposal, and the Defendants were given 30 days to file their response thereto. The Court's Ruling and Minute Entry do not establish any imminent hearing or trial deadlines for the purposes of considering the parties' proposed remedies, nor do they direct any party or the Louisiana Legislature to take any immediate remedial action. Therefore, the Court finds that its Ruling and Minute Entry do not have the "practical effect" of an injunction as Defendants claim.[10]

         The Court also finds the recent decisions arising out of the Western District of Texas, where stays were granted on appeal after a three-judge panel found violations of the Voting Rights Act and the United States Constitution, are distinguishable from the instant matter.[11] Faced with impending elections in 2018, the three-judge panel ordered the Texas Attorney General to file a written advisory within 3 days of each decision on whether and when the Texas Legislature would hold a special legislative session on redisricting to cure the violations (i.e., by redrawing the congressional districts and redrawing the maps for the Texas House of Representatives). In both decisions, the three-judge panel apprised the parties that if the Texas Legislature declined to take such action, then the parties and the staff for the Texas Legislative Council should be ready for a hearing on the remedial plans within 2 and 3 weeks of the respective decisions.[12] In the pending matter, there is no imminent election taking place within the 32nd JDC. The next regularly scheduled election for the 32nd JDC is in 2020.[13] As previously discussed herein, the Court has neither effectively ordered the Louisiana Legislature to take any immediate remedial action, nor scheduled an impending hearing or trial date to determine the appropriate remedy.

         Based on the foregoing, the Court finds that its August 19, 2017 Ruling and September 12, 2017 Minute Entry do not have the injunctive effect the Defendants claim they do. Accordingly, the Court further finds that Rule 62(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is inapplicable here.[14] Therefore, the Court hereby DENIES the Motion to Stay Order on Terrebonne Parish's At-Large 32nd Judicial District Court Pending Appeal filed by Defendants, Jeff Landry, in his official capacity as Attorney General of Louisiana, and John Bel Edwards, in his official capacity as Governor of Louisiana.[15]

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Notes:

[1] Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure Rule 8(a) provides that a party to an appeat should "ordinarily move first in the district court for... a stay of the judgment or order of a district court pending appeal." Fed. R. App. P. 8(a)(1 }(A). Considering that Rule 8(a) "requires an application for stay pending appeal to be sought in the first instance in the district court, " this Court has the authority to grant or deny the Defendants' motion to stay. Oliver v. Kalamazoo Bd of Educ, 548 F.Supp. 646, 647 (W.D. Mich. Oct. 7, 1982).

[2]Doc. 303.

[3] Doc. 311.

[4] Doc. 318.

[5] Rule 62(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states: "While an appeal is pending from an interlocutory order or final judgment that grants, dissolves, or denies an injunction, the court may suspend, modify, restore, or grant an injunction on terms for bond or other ...


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