Louisiana Law. Interesting Facts To Know.
Louisiana law is unique in America. Understanding the complexities of the law requires a legal team with the right relationships, a solid reputation, a long record of litigation success and a deep understanding of the law and the culture in the parishes and communities of Louisiana.
Redhibition is a civil action available in the State of Louisiana against the seller or manufacturer of a defective item. Unlike lemon laws that protect buyers of automobiles in other states, a redhibition suit can be applied to any product sold, new or used, including real estate.
If the buyer does not make a reasonable attempt to repair the asset or item, the defect existed at the time of the sale, and the defect prevented the assumed use of the asset, buyers can bring suit under redhibition to recover the purchase price, attorney fees, damages and other expenses associated with the purchase.
Lesion Beyond Moiety
Lesion beyond moiety allows the seller of an immovable property (real estate) to undo the sale when the price (or the value of the property offered in exchange) is less than one half of the fair market value.
Stemming from a Roman legal doctrine, Laesio enormis or abnormal harm, this principle was created to provide people a just value in exchange for property, at a time when the Roman Empire preferred to allow buyers and sellers to broadly outwit each other to get the best deal.
The Louisiana Bar
The Louisiana Bar Exam, for law school graduates who have demonstrated good moral character, is the longest bar exam in the United States. The examination takes place for 21 hours over 3 days on 9 topics.
Louisiana is the only U.S. state that does not use the standardized Multistate Bar Examination because the civil law system in Louisiana is significantly different from the legal systems of other states and territories.
Louisiana Civil Law
Louisiana has always had its own unique system of law stemming from a long history of shifting control between the French and Spanish prior to the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. As a result, Louisiana law is rooted in Roman and European continental civil law, not the English-derived common law that governs the rest of America.
Most notably, common law relies heavily upon the doctrine of stare decisis, or judiciary-developed precedent, in which subsequent rulings are based upon and controlled by prior rulings. Civil law systems rely more heavily on legislative enactments and codes which are intended to be primary sources for judges interpreting the law. Unlike the general rule in the 49 other states, Louisiana’s jurisprudence constante doctrine accords persuasive effect to a series of prior adjudicated cases, but those prior decisions do not automatically control the ruling in subsequent cases dealing with similar issues.
Forced heirship is unique to Louisiana. It determines which heirs are entitled to receive the assets of a deceased person. Children under 24 years of age, and children of any age who are physically or mentally incapacitated, must inherit their portion of a parent’s estate, even if the parent’s will specifically and purposefully leaves them out.
If a person dies without a valid will, the estate will be handled by intestate succession law and the estate distributed, both Community Property and Separate Property, to heirs as determined by the process.
For this reason, it is imperative to have a valid last will and testament that meets the legal requirements and provides for heirs when real estate or other assets are owned in Louisiana, regardless of where a primary residence is at the time of death.
Catch me if you can Louisiana Law
Frank Abagnale, the notorious fraudster portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2002 movie “Catch Me if You Can”, spent eight months as a lawyer with the Louisiana State Attorney General’s office in 1967. He used a forged Harvard Law transcript and passed the Louisiana bar exam on his third try to get the position at the age of nineteen.
Turns out the right side of the law was not for him. As a junior lawyer in the Civil Division, his role was mostly research – something he excelled at, but he never argued any cases before a judge. Abagnale quit when another attorney was hired from Harvard to avoid getting caught.
Catch me if you can Louisiana Law: Reprise
Like the law, things are rarely clear cut. In a new book, The Greatest Hoax on Earth: Catching Truth, While We Can, author and journalist Alan Logan gathers evidence to verify the claims made by Frank Abagnale, including his claim to have served with the Louisiana State Attorney General’s office in Baton Rouge in 1967.
According to Logan’s research, Mr. Abagnale was incarcerated in Comstock, New York at the time. He was arrested in Baton Rouge in 1969 for passing stolen checks from a local family and swindling local businesses there and that seems to be the extent of his involvement with the law in Louisiana.
Abagnale continues to make these claims and his account is generally accepted as the truth, despite verification challenges that are the nature of the con. It’s always advisable to explore both sides of the story. Out thanks to Alan Logan for reaching out to share your insights and experience!
Strange Louisiana Laws
Every state and district has unique laws that remain in place long after their usefulness…and some for which the original usefulness is a mystery. Louisiana has a few laws still in place that are somewhat interesting.
In New Orleans, it is illegal to tie your alligator to a fire hydrant and horses may not be tied to a tree on a public highway. Sharing this law with Memphis, it is also illegal for a woman to drive a car unless her husband is waving a flag in front of it.
It is against the law to lie in Louisiana, or make a promise you don’t keep, if you knew you weren’t going to keep it before you made it. And if you bite someone with false teeth, it is considered aggravated assault. If you use your natural teeth, it’s simple assault. In Port Allen, fortune-telling is prohibited and in Jefferson Parish it is illegal to pour a drink out on the ground at a drive-in.
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