In Wake of Cyberattack, New Orleans Courts Remain Closed

Posted on Jan 9, 2020 in Courts, Local Issues

UPDATE January 16th, 2020.

Orleans Traffic and Municipal Court remains offline. City attorneys have not yet returned to work.

The latest word from the court is that they are eyeing a Tuesday (January 21) reopening.

We will keep you posted as we receive updates.

On December 13th the city of New Orleans was struck by a cyberattack. Mayor Cantrell ordered a State of Emergency after ransomware was detected in the system. City hall servers were taken offline to prevent hackers gaining access to sensitive and personal information.

It’s now January. The servers have been offline for approaching a full month. Fallout from the cyberattack has been widespread, particularly impacting the legal system in New Orleans.

Orleans Traffic and Municipal Courts Remain Offline

The server at city hall is directly linked to the one at Orleans Traffic and Municipal Courts.  Following the attack, both servers were taken offline in order to protect data.

The court systems being offline for a month means that all digital records of tickets and criminal charges are inaccessible. Individuals with court dates and lawyers have showed up to court only to find that it is closed.

The timetable for the courts reopening continues to be deferred. Though the nola.gov website claims that Traffic and Municipal courts are open, the courts remain closed as of Wednesday January 8th.

What If You Have a Court Date or Payment Due?

The shutdown is affecting individuals with traffic tickets, court fees, court dates, DWIs, and misdemeanor charges. Currently, the traffic and municipal court website instructs individuals not to come to court at this time even if they have received a summons or have a payment due date.

According to the site, they will be issued a subpoena with a new court date or due date. Folks who show up to the court in person are being told the same thing by clerks. Some of those subpoenas have apparently begun going out this week. However, if your address is not up to date, you may not receive this subpoena.

What About People From Out of Town?

Tourists who have received a ticket or summons while visiting New Orleans in the last month or so find themselves in a particularly tough situation.

They may find themselves stuck in New Orleans, waiting for a court date. We have received calls from folks that are afraid to leave the city because they can’t get a straight answer on pending charges.

Those that received a summons but did leave now may be faced with the difficulty of planning when they need to return for their court date. Coordinating you work and life around a court date takes planning, especially if you will have to fly or drive a long distance to New Orleans.

If you’ve found yourself in this situation, you’ll want to get a New Orleans attorney on your side as soon as possible. Save yourself time, money, and energy by getting someone here on the ground to set a new court date for you.

In many cases, a New Orleans lawyer can appear on behalf of their client in court, without the client needing to be present.

When Will Orleans Municipal and Traffic Court Reopen?

It seems that things are gradually getting back to normal. Juvenile court is open. The tentative word from inside municipal and traffic court is that it could reopen by January 15th.

In a potential sign of progress, the courts’ website has recently begun accepting online payments for tickets once again. It should be noted, however, that paying a ticket is equivalent to pleading guilty to the charge or charges. This means that your record will be affected, and your insurance rates may rise. In many cases, you should consider your options before paying that ticket.

The court shutdown truly represents uncharted water for folks on every side of the issue. From the courts, to attorneys, to citizens, to the NOPD—everyone is on wait-and-see mode. At this time, it is not clear when the courts will reopen. It is also not clear if all records will be intact, or to what degree they will be, when the systems are brought back online.

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Bloom Legal is a New Orleans-based law firm focusing in criminal defense, DWI defense, and personal injury. Located in the heart of downtown, we have been serving the people of the greater New Orleans area for 15 years.

If you or someone you know are in need of legal representation, give us a call today for a free consultation.

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