Occasionally, the entire amount advanced is not used up during the life of the suit. As of October 31, 2019, the clerk of court had refunded to the public unused costs totaling $54,085,713.64.
Since 1991, the Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court has maintained a policy of issuing refunds of advance deposit costs to attorneys of record or pro se litigants in civil cases pursuant to Louisiana law. La. R.S. 13:842(B) states, in part, that refunds shall be issued “if a period of five years elapses without any pleadings being filed and the suit has been completely inactive during this five-year period…” The clerk may determine, by examination of the docket, whether pleadings have been filed within five years. In many instances, the clerk cannot determine if a case is also “completely inactive.” In fact, the clerk of court has received a return of refunds from law firms who have indicated that a suit was not “inactive” due to discovery or other matters handled outside of court records. In those instances, the funds are returned to the docket. However, the clerk of court has taken the position that neither statue prohibits the refund of deposited funds at any time during litigation, and has established policies and procedures for the return of civil suit advance deposit funds.
Although in La. R.S. 13:842(B) probate matters are “specifically excepted,” the clerk of court includes such case types in its refund procedures.
La. R.S. 13:843.1 states, in part, that for a case to be considered eligible for a refund, the clerk of court must receive written verification of final termination of the suit.
Although not required by law, in the interest of the civil litigants who have deposited funds with the clerk of court, the clerk has established internal criteria to issue refunds as follows: 1) five years have elapsed since any pleading or other document advancing the case has been filed into the record; 2) final termination of the suit; or 3) upon request of the attorney of record or pro se litigant.
Before the clerk of court issues a refund, a deputy clerk performs an examination of the suit’s docket ledger to ensure that all charges were applied appropriately and according to law. As the clerk of court is the fiduciary for collection of civil court costs, he must pay 10 or more government agencies certain proceeds from civil advance deposits. Suit balances reflected on JeffNet and in the clerk’s civil docket information system typically need adjustment before a refund check may be issued; figures presented there are an estimate of funds remaining on account. Refund checks are issued weekly to the attorney of record for each litigant or the party whom advanced the funds for the suit.
In recent years, the office has streamlined its refund procedures: 1) with software enhancements; 2) by dedicating more resources (personnel) to the effort; 3) by establishing workflow procedures that have led to refunds being issued more quickly; and 4) the completion of back-imaging of all civil case folders (a four-year project completed in 2018).
The clerk of court has consulted both its internal auditor and legal counsel to establish said policies and procedures.
You may read The New Orleans’ Advocate’s February 18, 2014 article regarding the clerk’s refund initiative here: http://www.theadvocate.com/news/neworleans/8405168-148/story.html
Call (504) 364-2912 if you have any questions about civil case refunds and billing.
 13:842. Advance costs
A. The clerks of the district courts shall demand and receive from the plaintiff or plaintiffs in each ordinary suit, whether accompanied by conservatory writs or not, not less than twenty dollars or such other amount as may be fixed by law for advanced costs, to be disbursed to the clerk’s salary fund or to others as their fees accrue. Whenever the costs have exhausted the amount of the original advance deposit, the clerk may refuse to perform any further function in the proceeding until the additional costs for the function have been paid, in accordance with the fees set forth in R.S. 13:841 or, in Orleans Parish, in R.S. 13:1213.
B. After an ordinary suit has been filed, if a period of five years elapses without any pleadings being filed and the suit has been completely inactive during this five-year period, the clerk shall refund any unused balance remaining in the clerk’s advance deposit fund (to the credit of this particular suit) to the person who made the original deposit, after paying all fees or other charges of record in the suit. Probate matters are specifically excepted from the provisions of this Subsection.
Amended by Acts 1954, No. 483, §1; Acts 1974, No. 541, §1; Acts 1978, No. 180, §1; Acts 2006, No. 621, §2, eff. Jan. 1, 2009; Acts 2008, No. 873, §1, eff. July 9, 2008; Acts 2012, No. 474, §5(A).
 13:843.1. Court costs; refund; statement of costs owing
Not later than ninety days after receipt of written verification of final termination of a civil suit, the clerk of each district court shall comply with either of the following:
(1) Refund to the plaintiff or plaintiffs any unused balance remaining in the clerk’s advance deposit fund to the credit of the particular suit.
(2) Issue to the party primarily liable a demand for payment of any accrued costs in excess of the advance deposit supported by an itemized account of these accrued costs.
Amended by Acts 1983, No. 303, §1; Acts 2001, No. 1166, §1.