100 Years of LSU Law, 1906-2006: A Centennial Gloss

AuthorPaul R. Baier
PositionProfessor of Law, Paul M. Hebert Law Center, Louisiana State University

Page 289

THIS IS THE SHOWING forth of the Inquiry of Herodotus of Halicarnassos so that neither the deeds of men may be forgotten by lapse of time, nor the works great and marvellous, which have been produced some by Hellenes and some by Barbarians, may lose their renoun; and especially that the causes may be remembered for which these waged war with one another.

-Herodotus, The Histories*

PROLOGUE, PAULUS. Et primo quidem temporibus diui Heberti: The call of the Louisiana Law Review to pen a centennial gloss of Dean Paul M. Hebert's Law School touches me deeply. Dean Hebert hired me a fleeting generation ago. What dazzled me then, what dazzles me now, is Louisiana's civil law tradition-its Code, its scholars, the LSU Law faculty, our great library of books. Kate Wallach's sweet memory lingers.1 When I arrived, I was in Bologna with its great doctors-Yiannopoulos was Justinian himself; Litvinoff, an Argentine Bartolus; Pascal, Gaius Noster. Precious Joseph Dainow brought John Henry Wigmore's comparative spark to LSU Law.2 I have the "Dainow Page 290 Code"-West's Civil Code of Louisiana, Second Edition, 1961-in the museum of my office today, next to Jacques-Louis David's portrait of Napoleon. My youthful exuberance persuaded Dean Hebert to allow me to teach the Louisiana Civil Law System course, always a riddle in the first year. I was anxious to make a top drawer Roman of myself. After a term or two, a visiting committee of Hebert, Pascal, and Dainow from the back bench turned thumbs down. Thereafter, I made myself a teacher, not of the Louisiana Civil Code, but of the United States Constitution.

Only because of the learning LSU Law School provides- universal learning Roscoe Pound recognized when the Old Law School was dedicated in 1938-do I see a link between the ways of Franois Gny in handling Napoleon's Code Civil and the ways of Harry Blackmun in handling the United States Constitution. That has been LSU Law's golden gift to me.

I owe much to Dean Hebert, to Bill Hawkland, to Chancellor Costonis. My colleagues, past and present, are a joy. A generation of law students has struggled to get to the bottom of the well with me in class. Their success is my great reward. Believe me, my emotions are deeply roused by the histories of LSU Law, 1906- 2006.

B.1, 1 DEAN KELLY; TULLIS; BEUTEL. I did not know Joseph Kelly, our first Dean. His successor, Robert Lee Tullis, LL.B., Tulane 1887, carries us to 1934, in the midst of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and an obstreperous Supreme Court. Tullis was forty-three when he joined the faculty. He died in 1955, at age ninety. He is a legendary figure still with us by way of the Tullis Moot Court Competition. Dean Hebert whispered in my ear that Dean Beutel, another ghost of our past, quit taking the bar examination, and not too deep into it, for fear of flunking. Thus, Dean Hebert cautioned me to study hard for the Louisiana bar examination. He was right.

1, 2 HARGRAVE'S HISTORIES. Professor W. Lee Hargrave's fascinating book LSU Law3 takes us up to 1977. It preserves the story of Dean Beutel's boast that anyone could pass the Civil Code Page 291portions of the bar examination, of Beutel's busting out himself, of the story's accompanying lyric:

    Tis said by some our boy was ill.

Perhaps that was the case,

But I for one, believe it was true

That he quit to save his face.4

Lee Hargrave is LSU Law's Procopius, exposing its anekdota. Lee's book preserves his severe wit, his painstaking scholarship, his inviting portrait. It is his final centennial gift to us all.

1, 3 STATE LAW INSTITUTE; J. DENSON SMITH. Our Law School proudly houses the Louisiana State Law Institute. Its first Director, Professor J. Denson Smith, invited me to attend a meeting years ago. This was at the Monteleone Hotel in New Orleans. I marveled at it. I told Professor Smith ("Big Red") that I enjoyed myself. "You enjoyed us," he replied. Smith was a master of the Socratic method, predecessor of George Pugh and Wex Malone.

1, 4 COLONEL TUCKER. Colonel John H. Tucker, Jr., the State Law Institute's first President, lives on in the pages of the Louisiana Law Review. His portrait presides over the Tucker Room, gloriously refurbished, where our faculty meets. To my eye, here is our Htel Invalides-le tombeau de l'Empereur. "Most present in this place is the awe-evoking sense of human possibility, which is a different thing from hope."5 The vital work of the State Law Institute keeps Louisiana's civil law up to date. Through it, our faculty stays in touch with the bar. Thus, as Dean Hebert envisioned, LSU's Law Center serves mankind's greater good through law. Louisiana's Civil Code endures, refreshed. And on its centennial, Paul M. Hebert's Law Center confidently turns its face to the globe.

1,5 MASTER TEACHERS. But let me come back down to earth, to the classroom, to master teachers at LSU Law. Henry Politz described Dean Hebert as "The Tiger"-"when one sees a tiger come into the room it is not necessary for the tiger to roar to know it is there."6 Before my time, Harriet Spiller ("Ma") Daggett, the first woman to achieve the rank of full professor in any accredited American law school, was captivating in the classroom-Page 292 "bombastic," says Milton Harrison.7 She taught here from 1926 until her retirement in 1961. Her book, The Community Property System of Louisiana,8 is a paradigm of comparative scholarship.

And without meaning to slight others, may I say that our colleague Katherine Shaw Spaht has succeeded Harriet Spiller Daggett magnificently. The reader may also recognize our Academic Vice- Chancellor Cheney Joseph as heir to Dale Bennett; Crawford to Smith; Maraist to Malone; and so forth. Litvinoff, of course, is sui generis. I once thought him either a genius or a fraud. He is the former, I am sure now. Thus, we come and go. I like to think that Mel Dakin and Hector Currie accompany me to my constitutional law classes. Both were courtly gentlemen of the old school. Thus, generation succeeds generation at LSU Law.

1,6 GEORGE W. PUGH. Master teachers? My pick is George Willard Pugh. True, his federal courts class was known among students as-say it softly-"Pugh's Mystery Hour." But all recognize George Pugh as a master of the Socratic method, as LSU's Samuel Williston. Why, here is a razor that cut Holmes's Polyblank opinion to shreds while a Sterling Fellow at Yale Law School,9 later to become Louisiana's John Henry Wigmore by virtue of the Louisiana Code of Evidence,10 of which George Pugh was masterful Reporter. George's mind and spirit are sterling still. He retired in 1994, but I saw him (with Jean always) out of the corner of my eye this centennial fall term. He was guest of honor in Bernie Boudreaux's criminal justice seminar, along with Chief Justice Calogero and Chief Judge Ginger Berrigan. The other day George Pugh and I had a good jaw over corn and crab soup at Parrain's Seafood on Perkins Road. We talked about family first, LSU Law second. I told him that his backyard sausage grills (french bread, yellow mustard, beer) stick in memory. His students swarmed all over him. "It's important for students to realize their professors are human."

1, 7 TULLIS ON GRAMMAR AND SPELLING. One of my proudest boasts is that I succeeded George Pugh and Lee Hargrave in the law review seminar. For posterity, may I say we are trying to improve things at LSU Law. "The idea of students at a university being ignorant on the subjects of grammar and spelling! It shouldPage 293 be changed, it certainly should!"11 This from Dean Tullis, circa 1918.

1, 8 LEGAL WRITING DEPARTMENT; MOOT COURT BOARD. Our Legal Writing Department's professional upgrading is a centennial highlight. In 1935, under a heralded "modernization program," the Student Moot Court Board was established. "Beutel's announcement was typically boisterous-an 'appellate moot court system, similar to those existing in all large universities, will be installed in the Louisiana State University Law School.'"12

1, 9 NATIONAL CHAMPIONS. Seventy years later, the Law Center's centennial Moot Court teams brought national and international gold home to our trophy case. At the Paul M. Hebert Law Center, we like to think of ourselves as LSU National Champions, too.

B.2, 1 LAW REVIEW; HIGHLAND ROAD SUPREME COURT. The Louisiana Law Review dates from 1938, the year a scaled-down replica of the Supreme Court of the United States opened up on Highland Road. I recall Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's visit to LSU Law: "Welcome home." Architect Leon Weiss's idea was prompted by Huey Long's grand plans for LSU Law School. "Huey's objective was to make LSU's law program nationally recognized."13 He sought Wayne Morse, then at Oregon Law School. Morse declined on the ground that if Huey Long "could call me in the middle of the night to hire me, he could call me, also, in the middle of the night to fire me."14 Roscoe Pound's article, The Influence of the Civil Law in America,15 was read at the dedicatory symposium on April 8, 1938. Our venerable Professor Robert A. Pascal, who at 91 works daily in his Tucker Room office and paces our corridors with his head on straight ("I shoot trap on Wednesdays"), delights in recounting how he heard Roscoe Pound deliver his address live on the ascending steps off Highland Road.Page 294

The "Old Law School" is still with us-a Roman temple on Highland Road. Here is a living icon of our Romanist roots,16 an umbilical cord to the "New Law Center" of my generation. Both are resuscitated, redesigned, and refurbished thanks to Governor Foster, Steve Perry, Cheney Joseph, Glenn Morris, and John Costonis, the latter, our architect as well as Chancellor, at the dawn of the twenty-first century.

2, 2 JUSTICE SCALIA. I recall hearing Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court of the United States at the rededication ceremony. He confessed error in thinking that a Supreme Court Justice is more important than a law teacher. He told us he...

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