Alan Brackett Appointed to Supreme Court of Louisiana Historical Society’s Steering Committee to Commemorate the Bicentennial of the 1825 Civil Code

Alan G. BrackettManaging member Alan Brackett has been appointed to serve as a co-chair on the Supreme Court of Louisiana Historical Society’s Steering Committee to Commemorate the Bicentennial of the 1825 Civil Code. This important milestone presents a special opportunity to celebrate Louisiana’s legal heritage and its unique place in the civilian world. Alan will assist the committee in planning a series of events to mark this occasion in 2025. The committee includes all Justices of the Louisiana Supreme Court as well as distinguished lawyers, scholars, and legal historians from around the state.

The Louisiana Civil Code 1825

The Louisiana Civil Code 1825 is the codification of the civil law enacted by the Louisiana state legislature in 1825, much of it modeled on the Code Napoleon. The Civil Code contains the basic law of persons, property, obligations, donations, and successions that Louisiana statutes must accord with and Louisiana judges must apply in deciding cases.

In the “The Louisiana Civil Code,” an article by Earl A. Sailers that appeared in The Accounting Review, Sailers provides a summary of how it came into being:

“From a legalistic point of view the civilized world is divided into two groups, viz., that which has the common law as its basis and that which adheres to the civil law. The common law originated in England; the civil law in Rome. Since the United States was colonized principally by English speaking peoples, the common law was adopted as the foundation of the legal systems of most of the states. In some instances, however, the civil law has been permitted to materially modify state systems of law, and in one, namely Louisiana, the civl law is the accepted system.

Code Napoleon. At the time of the French Revolution a mass of poorly classified laws and customs prevailed in France. Napoleon undertook the revision and codification of this data. He appointed a commission of four to undertake the work. After four months’ labor it published a code, and during the following six years, viz., 1804-1810, revised and elaborated it, thus producing the Code Napoleon, which consists of five parts, as follows:

1. Le Code Civil, dealing with private relations.
2. Le Code procedure Civil.
3. Le Code de commerce.
4. Le Code de Instruction Criminelle.
5. Le Code Penal.

A form of the civil law was introduced into Louisiana when it was ceded to Spain in 1763. In 1818 the Territory of Orleans adopted a code founded largely on the Code Napoleon, and this code, modified by subsequent revision, is in force today. Preceding 1818, however, there occurred a struggle, under the inspiration of President Jefferson, to substitute the common law for the prevailing system. A compromise resulted in that the common law was adopted in so far as it related to criminal procedure, whereas the civil law was adopted in so far as family relations, private personal relations, and private property are concerned.

Distinctive Features of Louisiana Law

When the compilers of the Louisiana Civil Code of 1825 began their work they found in the French Code the law of ancient Louisiana modernized and readjusted. They used those portions that their experience found applicable to Louisiana, at the same time drawing upon Spanish law in support of principles and practices too well settled to be disturbed. To a large extent, however, they acted independently of both French and Spanish law, so that today there exist, in Louisiana law, many departures from the model after which the fundamental law of the state is patterned.”

About the Supreme Court of Louisiana Historical Society

Louisiana Supreme court Historical SocietyThe Supreme Court of Louisiana Historical Society is a private non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, which was incorporated in the State of Louisiana in 1992.  The Society is dedicated to the collection and preservation of the history of the Supreme Court of Louisiana and its decisions for the purpose of increasing public awareness of the Court’s contribution to Louisiana’s rich legal heritage.

Member contributions have allowed The Historical Society to open the Louisiana Supreme Court Museum, to restore and reopen the stunning Supreme Court building at 400 Royal Street, and to restore dozens of portraits of Louisiana Judges of historical significance. Membership is open to the public, as is the museum.