Index to Suit Records
Date range: Records, 1813-1846
The First Judicial District Court (sometimes referred to simply as the District Court or as the First District Court) was created by act of the Louisiana Legislature in 1813. The court had geographical jurisdiction over the First Judicial District of the State, including Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charle s, and St. John the Baptist Parishes. When Jefferson Parish was created out of Orleans in 1825, it too was placed within the First Judicial District. At the outset the court had both civil and criminal original jurisdiction as well as jurisdiction in appeals from the Parish Courts in its constituent parishes (excepting Orleans, whose appeals went directly to the Louisiana Supreme Court).
In 1818 the Court's criminal jurisdiction was given to a new Criminal Court of the City of New Orleans which, in the following year, was enlarged to cover the entire district. Originally the Court had one judge, learned in the law, and appointed by the Governor. In 1826 a second, junior, judge was added by act of the Legislature. When a new judicial system was established in 1846, the parishes of the original First Judicial District were reorganized as follows: St. Bernard and Plaquemines became the Second District; Jefferson, the Third; and St. Charles and St. John, part of the Fourth. Orleans remained as the only parish in the First Judicial District, with five separate courts of various civil and criminal jurisdictions. Orleans Parish suits still pending in the First Judicial District Court in 1846 were transferred to the new Fifth District Court.
The records of the First Judicial Court were deposited in the Louisiana Division by the Civil District Court in 1974.
The records are arranged in series:
Included are manuscript records of individual suits filed before the Court. Each suit record includes all or some of the following documents: petitions, citations, orders, answers, judgments, and exhibits (such as transcriptions of testimony, letters, inventories, copies of other documents, etc.). Existing inventories of these records suggest that approximately 15% are missing. The Genealogical Society of Utah microfilmed the "genealogically significant" suit records, as well as the minute books, 1838-1846, and the extant manuscript indexes to the general docket books (1836-1846); copies of the microfilm are available in the City Archives and through the LDS Family History Library. An index to the suit records, 1813-1835, created by Louisiana Division staff and volunteers, is available below.
More recently, the manuscript indexes (1836-1846) and the single exisiting docket book were digitized by FamilySearch and are available, free of charge. You must create an account with FamilySearch.org in order to view the images, but the account is free. See the links above to access the digital records.
Also included are bound manuscript volumes (minutes, dockets, indexes, etc.) which serve as "finding aids" or supplements to the original suit records. The minute books and deed books (v. 1-3) are also available on microfilm, as arethe indexes to general docket books. See also the separate Register of Naturalizations. First Judicial District Court, also available on microfilm.
Researchers are cautioned to be "creative" in searching for individual names in this index. Problems in the interpretation of the original handwriting of the court clerks, indexer unfamiliarity with local names, and a variety of other factors have conspired to make this index less than perfect in its precision. For example, in using the search engine noted above, researchers should search for truncated portions of names if the full name, properly spelled, is not found.
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At the request of a very good friend of the Louisiana Division and City Archives, we dedicate this index to Dr. Hugh M. Collins, Judicial Administrator of the Supreme Court of Louisiana.