Celebrating 200 Years

The Bicentennial of the Louisiana Supreme Court


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Celebrating 200 years . The Bicentennial of the Louisiana Supreme Courrt 1813-2013


Louisiana Supreme Court Justices



Chief Justice Thomas Slidell

Thomas Slidell (1805-1864)

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Louisiana, March 19, 1846, to May 3, 1853

Chief Justice, May 4, 1853, to June 18, 1855


Born 1805 into a prominent merchant family in New York City • Graduated from Yale College in 1825 • After studying and traveling in Spain, settled in New Orleans, where brother John Slidell was important in Democratic politics, serving as U.S. Senator from 1853-61 • Practiced law with Judah P. Benjamin, becoming expert in the law of partnership • Co-edited a digest of Superior Court and Supreme Court decisions • Appointed U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana in 1837 • Elected to the state senate in 1844 • Appointed associate justice of the Supreme Court in 1846 • When the Constitution of 1852 prescribed the election of Supreme Court justices, was elected to a ten-year term as chief justice • Resigned in 1855, apparently from overwork • Confirmed Louisiana as a "mixed jurisdiction," blending the legislative authority of civil law and the common law's reliance on precedent • The Supreme Court's 1839 decision in Reynolds v. Swain (13 La. Ann. 193), in which Slidell represented Swain in a partnership question, defined the independence of the Louisiana judiciary, bringing it into the larger American legal tradition •