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A Closer Look: A Symposium Among Legal Historians and Law Librarians to Uncover the Spanish Roots of the Louisiana Civil Law

27 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2010 Last revised: 29 Apr 2013

Vicenç Feliú

Villanova University School of Law

Dennis Kim-Prieto

Rutgers Law School

Teresa M. Miguel-Stearns

Yale Law School - Lillian Goldman Law Library; Yale University

Date Written: February 16, 2010

Abstract

The debate regarding whether the origin of Louisiana civil law is based in the Spanish or in the French legal tradition has been ongoing since that state’s incorporation into the United States as a result of the Louisiana Purchase. Distinguished legal scholars have argued in favor of one tradition being dominant over the other, and each has been staunch in support of that view. This article proposes and demonstrates that the Spanish, not French, civil law had an enormous influence on the creation and evolution of Louisiana civil law, and that this legacy resonates today.

The article begins with a brief historical account of the formation of Louisiana from territory to statehood. It then closely examines the contributions of Louis Casimir Elisabeth Moreau Lislet, the architect of the Digest of 1808 and the Code of 1825. Original Spanish documents and resources that were the foundation of the Digest of 1808 are analyzed and used to demonstrate how these Spanish civil law sources had a profound impact on Moreau Lislet and on the creation of Louisiana civil law. Finally the continuing evolution of Louisiana civil law and the now-famous Batiza-Pascal debate on the origins of the Louisiana civil law are carefully examined.

Keywords: legal history, Louisiana, Civil Law, Civil Code, Digest, Louis Moreau Lislet, French law, Spanish law, Digest of 1808, Louisiana Civil Code

JEL Classification: K00, K19

Suggested Citation

Feliú, Vicenç and Kim-Prieto, Dennis and Miguel-Stearns, Teresa M., A Closer Look: A Symposium Among Legal Historians and Law Librarians to Uncover the Spanish Roots of the Louisiana Civil Law (February 16, 2010). Rutgers School of Law-Newark Research Paper No. 087; Villanova Law/Public Policy Research Paper No. 2013-3030. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1694690

Vicenç Feliú (Contact Author)

Villanova University School of Law ( email )

299 N. Spring Mill Road
Villanova, PA 19085
United States
610-519-7023 (Phone)
610-519-7033 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.villanova.edu/Our%20Faculty/Faculty%20Profiles/Vicenc%20Feliu.aspx

Dennis Kim-Prieto

Rutgers Law School ( email )

NJ
United States

Teresa M. Miguel-Stearns

Yale Law School - Lillian Goldman Law Library ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

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