Opening the Barbarians Gate or Watching the Barbarians from the Coliseum: A Requiem on the Nomos of the Louisiana Civil Law

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Louisiana Law Review


Comparative law tends to focus on the differences and similarities present in different legal systems. Such analysis has led some to conclude that a third legal system has appeared in the West and in particular in Louisiana. The idea of a mixed jurisdiction, they claim, combines certain elements of civil law and common law into a hybrid system. This article challenges the supposition that a legal system's core identity can be of a mixed nature. Rather, this article suggests that the proper way a legal system should be viewed is through its normative values as depicted in the narratives the system spawns-a nomos that directs the purveyors of the system towards the sources and identity that the system enchants. Focusing primarily on Louisiana, Part I of this article describes three normative elements that narratives tell about the Louisiana civil law: its Frenchness, its distinctiveness, and its dependency on a code. Part II then tells two narratives that demonstrate how these normative elements are revealed, even when they are not completely accurate. Part III challenges the readers to inhabit the nomos.


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