Criminal Courts Collection
New Orleans Public Library
Date range: 1874-1880
Size of collection:10+ boxes
Terms of Access: Available to registered researchers by appointment
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The Superior Criminal Court for the parish of Orleans was established by Act 124 of the Louisiana Legislature, Session of 1874. It had jurisdiction in the following matters:
Act 124 also removed the above-noted matters from the jurisdiction of the existing First District Court. Cases pending before that Court were transferred to the Superior Criminal Court. The new court also took over as the office for the filing of election returns and voter registrations.
The Court's regular sessions were set for October through May, but was to hold special sessions at other times of the year as necessary. Its first judge was appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate and held office until a permanent judge was elected. The Court also had a clerk, a deputy clerk, and two assistant clerks. The existing Criminal Sheriff of Orleans Parish served both the First District Court and the Superior Criminal Court.
The Superior Criminal Court began deliberations on April 12, 1874, with Judge A. A. Atocha presiding. John Fitzpatrick, later Mayor of New Orleans, served as its first Clerk. The Superior Criminal Court and the First District Court were replaced by the Louisiana Constitution of 1879 with the Criminal District Court for Orleans Parish.
The first four years of the Court's existence were during the period of Reconstruction in Louisiana. The Metropolitan Police served as the police force for the City of New Orleans during those years. These records provide important documentation of the operations of the Metropolitans, especially in light of the paucity of other records relating to the force. They should also be of value to an understanding of Reconstruction violence in New Orleans during the months leading up to the "Battle of Liberty Place" (September 14, 1874) and beyond.
Individual case records will contain some, but probably not all, of these documents:
Of the first one-thousand cases brought before the Superior Criminal Court the most common charges were:
The records were transferred to the City Archives folded into trifold bundles. Library volunteer Geraldine Pilotte flattened the individual documents in each case file and replaced them in folders. The folders are filed in order by docket number. Ms. Pilotte also recorded on paper the name(s) of the accused, the criminal charge as recorded in the documents, and the docket number of each case. This data was then entered into a Microsoft Access database by volunteers Cassi Pretlow and Lea Gaines. We extracted the following inventory from that database using the "save as HTML" function in Access. This inventory supplements the existing manuscript index to the Court's case files and gives us the opportunity to provide online access to information about the individual case files.
There are problems with the database and with the HTML files listed below. Issues of legibility and inconsistent spelling on the original documents have resulted in misspelled names in trancriptions and in database entries. Time permitting, we will eventually address these misspellings and correct them if possible. Rather than delay access to the records any longer, however, we have elected to post the imperfect inventory on the Internet so that researchers can begin to use these long-neglected records of crime in New Orleans.
|Click on a number range below to view that section of the suit-by-suit inventory:|
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