City Archives
New Orleans Public Library

Louisiana. Superior Court for the Parish of Orleans

Date Range:   1874-1880
Acquisition:   Deposited by Criminal District Court, 1989
Extent:   9 v.; 10+ cubic feet
Terms of Access:   Unmicrofilmed records are available in-house to registered researchers

Go directly to the Index to Case Records

Historical Background

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:

  • offenses punishable by death, life imprisonment, or imprisonment at hard labor for more than five years
  • violations of the state election and registration laws
  • offenses committed by officers of the state and its municipalities
  • bribery
  • unlawful assemblage
  • carrying concealed weapons
  • conspiracy to commit crime
  • conspiracy to oppose execution of laws
  • obstruction of the performance of public officers
  • malfeasance, extortion, or oppression in office
  • attempting to bribe grand or petit jurors
  • grand larceny

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 records are arranged in series as follows, all of which are records of the regular business of the court:
case records
minute books
general dockets

Detailed Description of the Records

Case Records


Case Records, 1874-1880

Link here to search the Index to Case Records

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:

  • Indictment or affidavit--the criminal equivalent of the initial petition in a civil suit. It will set forth the specifics of the criminal conduct that caused the matter to be brought before the Court. On the reverse there will usually be recorded information on arraignment, final verdict or other disposition, and sentencing.
  • Police reports
  • Copy of Cornoner's inquest
  • Testimony and/or statements of witnesses, the accused, and police officers
  • Bonds (bail and/or appeal)
  • Documents from lower courts
  • Motions, exceptions, and other pleadings filed by the attorney representing the accouses and/or by the District Attorney
  • Orders, jury charges, and other rulings by the judge
  • Jury lists
  • Witness lists
  • Arrest warrants
  • Subpoenas
  • Appeals and related documents
Other documents may also be included.

Of the first one-thousand cases brought before the Superior Criminal Court the most common charges were:

  • Concealed weapons--199
  • Murder--68
  • Embezzlement--84
  • Breaking and entering--54
  • Robbery--43
  • Burglary--48
  • Assault and battery--66
  • Shooting--28
  • Perjury--43
  • False imprisonment--26
  • Grand larceny--76

Back to Arrangement

Minute Books


Minute Books, 1874-1880
8 v.

Bound manuscript volumes in which the daily minutes of the court's proceedings were entered by the clerk. (The minute books are not microfilmed.)

v. 1 10/5/1874 - 2/23/1875
v. 2 7/5/1875 - 3/7/1876
v. 3 7/5/1875 - 12/28/1876
v. 4 1/10/1877 [fragment] - 10/31/1877 [fragment]
v. 5 11/21/1877 - 5/23/1878
v. 6 5/24/1878 - 1/25/1879
v. 7 1/27/1879 - 12/6/1879
v. 8 12/8/1879 - 7/30/1880

Back to Arrangement

General Docket


1 v.

The general docket is arranged in numerical order by docket number. Each page is divided into rectangular sections so that one docket entry appears in each section. At the head of each entry is the docket number and the names of the plaintiff (always "State of Louisiana") and defendant(s) in the case. The charge is also noted. Beneath the heading is a dated list of the actions taken in the suit (e.g., petitions, answers, orders, documents filed, copies made, record withdrawn, judgments, etc.), along with the court costs incurred for each action.

v. 1 4/15/1874 - 7/29/1880

Back to Orleans Parish Civil and Criminal Courts

coded: 4/9/2001
coded by: we
revised: 10/16/2001 - we/cp

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