Smitko v. Gulf South Shrimp Oral Arguments

by Chris on May 8, 2012

For the first time since 1909 the Louisiana Supreme Court returned to the Cabildo to hear oral arguments. This meeting, the first in over 102 years, was in anticipation of the bicentennial celebration of the first sitting of the Supreme Court of Louisiana on March 1, 2013. This same building is where the court heard Plessy v. Ferguson and it was an honor to be a part of Louisiana’s history to hear oral arguments in the Smitko case.

One thing that was glaringly obvious from this oral argument was that very few facts were ascertained before the filing of the summary judgment. While each side went back and forth about the facts (or the lack thereof), there was one thing that was missing–the law. While there may be genuine issues surrounding the facts squabbled about in the court room, there was no issue of whether or not the defendants filed a suit to annul the tax sale.

Under our constitution, the old law, and the new law, a suit to annul must be filed within six months of being served with the petition to quiet title or you are barred from doing so. There was no challenge as to the constitutionality of these statutes and it was absolutely certain that the defendants in this case never filed a suit to annul. The mantra of “absolute nullity” was repeated over and over and echoed in our ears. Meanwhile the judges asked questions that the attorneys never seemed to find an answer for.

In my humble opinion as a blogger on the internet, the constitution is not infringed when there is notice. If the notice is a letter, an e-mail, an advertisement, a phone call, or conveys awareness in any way it’s good notice. In Smitko, the notice was being served with the lawsuit itself! This is what the new law says, there is no constitutional challenge to this law, and it falls both ways no matter what side you’re on. Meanwhile, we’ll wait to hear from the Supreme Court.


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