Louisiana state law has established 42 judicial districts to provide for the district court system in Louisiana. Judicial districts may encompass single or multiple parishes.

The financial operations of district courts are accounted for in the financial statements of a number of different local government agencies, including clerks of court, criminal court funds, district attorneys, district public defenders, and judicial expense funds. Each of these entities is considered to be a local auditee for purposes of reporting to the Louisiana Legislative Auditor (LLA)

Criminal court funds are established within each parish by Louisiana Revised Statute (R.S.) 15:571.11. The criminal court is funded through fines and forfeitures imposed by the district court in criminal cases. Expenditures of the fund are for the general operating costs of the criminal court; which includes transcripts, statements, costs of the petit and grand juries, sheriff and clerk of court attendance fees, and certain costs of criminal court judges and district attorneys. Criminal courts may report to LLA through the criminal court fund in the related parish government authority audit; or through a separate audit report of the criminal court fund.

R.S. 16.1, et. seq establishes the office of district attorney within each judicial district. District attorneys are elected officials , and serve as the prosecuting attorneys for criminal court cases. District attorneys receive 12% of the fines imposed by the criminal court for the operations of their office. Other expenditures of the district attorney’s office are funded by the state or federal programs, or by various other local government agencies. District attorneys may administer and account for child support enforcement programs, drug programs, worthless check collection programs, asset forfeitures, and other programs. Each district attorney provides a separate annual audit report to LLA.

District public defenders are appointed by the Louisiana Public Defender Board, which was created by R.S. 15:146 to provide for the supervision, administration, and delivery of the statewide public defender system. The board serves as the administrator of the Louisiana Public Defender Fund, which supports the district public defender offices throughout the state. R.S. 24:515.1 requires district public defenders to include certain information regarding their revenues and expenditures in their annual financial reports to LLA (see Special Reporting – District Public Defenders).

Judicial expense funds are established generally by R.S. 13:991-996; each judicial expense fund is also established by individual statute. Judges of district courts may levy court costs for the court’s operation; the amount of court costs to be levied in civil and criminal cases is determined by the judge, or by the majority of the judges in those districts with more than one judge. The amount of costs levied cannot exceed the amount established by the creating statute. Court costs are normally collected by the clerk of court and the sheriff, remitted to the judge, and deposited to the judicial expense fund. The judge or majority of the judges in the district approves expenditures from the fund. Expenditures can be for any purpose cited in the creating statute, and normally include materials and supplies, the law library, and salaries of individuals appointed by the judge (law clerks, court reporters, clerks, research clerks, administrative staff, and other personnel). The creating statutes do not usually allow judges’ salaries to be paid from the judicial expense fund.

The Louisiana Compliance Questionnaire requires district attorneys and other entities within the judicial district system to provide statements or representations to their auditor regarding their compliance with certain provisions laws and regulations. Auditors are required to test these agencies’ compliance with these laws and regulations.

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