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Historical Notes

The roots of the Louisiana judicial system are vested in the colonial governments of France and Spain.  In 1804 the United States Congress divided the Louisiana Purchase into two territories giving the name "Orleans" to that land south of the 331 N. latitude.  They named W.C.C. Claiborne as its first judicial officer.  When Louisiana became a state in 1812 the Legislature was given the authority to establish any lesser courts it felt necessary.  Between 1813 and 1845 there were several additions to the court system in Orleans: City Court in 1825; Probate Court in 1836; Commercial Court in 1839; Court of Errors and Criminal Appeals in 1843.  The Supreme Court was ordered to sit in New Orleans in 1844 and in 1845 the new constitution set up district courts, justices of the peace, and clerks of court.  Two noteworthy occurrences in 1852 were: the City of New Orleans and the Parish of Orleans became geographically one; and all judgeships were made elective "to strengthen the separation of powers and make them more responsive to their electorate".  It was the 1879 Constitutional Convention that gave New Orleans its separate system of two district Courts, one Civil and one Criminal with their concomitant Offices of the Civil Sheriff and Clerk of Civil Court and Criminal Sheriff and Clerk of Criminal Court.  It also establishes four new City Courts, thus replacing the Justices of the Peace.  Not until 1910 was a separate Juvenile Court established and later in 1921 the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal was seated in New Orleans.  The latest major change in Civil Court occurred in 1934 when four Commissioners were appointed by the Court to help relieve the increased caseload.

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