§1000. Legal assistance program; additional filing fee in civil matters
A. The judges of the district courts and family courts, including the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, by court rule may establish a legal assistance program to provide fiscal support for qualified pro bono projects of local bar associations in their districts and for legal services programs funded by the Legal Services Corporation and by the state's protection and advocacy system for persons with disabilities. For purposes of this Section, a qualified pro bono project means a program or project that is designed to provide free legal services for the poor in civil and family matters and that is qualified as a nonprofit organization pursuant to Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. A court electing to establish a legal assistance program shall provide by rule the means to assure that persons served by a qualified pro bono project, legal services program or the state's protection and advocacy system for persons with disabilities are determined to be financially unable to afford the services of legal counsel, either in advance or as costs of such services might accrue.
B. In parishes in a judicial district in which the judges of the district court or family court have elected to establish a legal assistance program, the clerk of court, including the clerk of the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, shall add to the initial cost of docketing each civil suit, including succession, family, and tutorship proceedings, an amount not to exceed ten dollars. The court by rule shall designate an account for the deposit of such funds.
C. The court shall apportion the funds collected pursuant to Subsection B of this Section among the qualified pro bono projects in the district on an annual basis. The apportionment shall be based upon an application process that assures that each qualified pro bono project in a district receives a percentage of the funds approximating the percentage of legal services provided by that project out of the total legal services provided by all qualified pro bono projects in the district. The court shall provide by rule for the submission by officials of each recipient of such reports and audits as the court deems necessary.
D. The clerk of each court shall retain five percent of all fees collected pursuant to this Section to be used to offset expenses incurred in collection and administration of these funds.
Acts 1997, No. 1093, §1; Acts 2001, No. 1086, §1.