City Archives
New Orleans Public Library

Territory of Orleans. Superior Court.
Index to Suit Records, 1804-1813

The Superior Court was created in March 1804 (Act 284, 1st Ses.) to replace the Court of Pleas, which had been established under the temporary government of Territory of Orleans following the Louisiana Purchase. During the territorial period, the Superior Court was roughly analogous to today's Louisiana Supreme Court, i.e., operating as a court of last resort.

The court was a circuit court made up of three judges, though one judge could make a quorum and conduct the business of the court. Its permanent seat was within the County of Orleans, but beginning in 1806, the court was required to go on circuit between June 1 and November 1.

The Superior Court had both original and appellate jurisdiction in civil matters involving $100 or more and exclusive jurisdiction in all capital crimes and crimes punishable at hard labor for life or for 7 years or more. In all other criminal cases, its jurisdiction was concurrent with the county (later parish) courts.

In 1813, the Supreme Court of Louisiana superseded the Superior Court, and all records of and pending cases in the Superior Court were transferred to the district in which the defendant resided.

The Superior Court suit records comprise ca. 3500 cases, many of which involve insolvency proceedings. Included are records from the Court's proceedings in New Orleans only. None of the circuit records are represented in this series. Although the final disposition of the suit is generally given, the judges' reasons for judgment are not. Suit records alone are extant; no supporting documentation, such as docket books or minute books, has survived. Approximately 325 Superior Court suits are represented in Francois Xavier Martin's reports, published in two volumes in 1811 and 1818 (reprinted in 1913).

Part one of this index was made possible by Professor Mark Fernandez of the Loyola University History Department. He unfolded the originally bundled documents, filed them in folders, and wrote file names and suit numbers on each folder. Library staff created a simple list in WordPerfect from the information on each folder. We have not rechecked the data entries against Prof. Fernandez's handwritten notes, so it is likely that some typographical errors are lurking in the index that follows. Part two results from the work of volunteer Geraldine Pilotte.

Because we originally intended to print part one, we had the data entry person enter each suit twice, once with plaintiff's name first and then with defendant's name first. The resulting duplication remains in the index. In addition to names of plaintiff and defendant each index entry gives the year(s) of the suit and the suit number. Duplicate suit numbers remain unresolved, but do not affect our ability to retrieve the documents. Part one is arranged in alphabetical order by name of plaintiff/defendant.

Part two of the index lists the name(s) of plaintiffs and defendants, arranged in numerical order by docket number. There is some overlap between the end of part one and the beginning of part two. Also available is an off-line database that includes the names of individuals listed as creditors in most of the insolvency suits listed in part two of the index. See an archivist for further information.


NOTE: The Superior Court suit records are available by appointment to registered researchers for in-house use only. Because of the fragile condition of the original materials we will no longer photocopy any of the documents.

Index--Part One (1804-1809)
[A] [B] [C] [D] [E] [F] [G] [H] [I] [J] [K] [L] [M] [N] [O] [P] [Q] [R] [S] [T] [U] [V] [W] [X] [Y] [Z]

Index--Part Two (1809-1813)
#2121-2500    ||     #2501-2999    ||     #3001-3496


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coded: May 1999
Coded by: Irene Wainwright
Revised: December 2002 (Wayne Everard)


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