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Longest Court Case in U.s. History

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In addition to contentious legal issues, Gaines and Whitney faced other types of challenges in the courtroom. In presenting their case to the courts in New Orleans, the couple, who were not fluent in French, had to navigate complicated legal proceedings that continued to rely heavily on the use of the French language. For example, if an argument were presented in English, French-speaking judges would be excused by the jury box. Similarly, English-speaking jurors were removed from the jury box whenever it was time to listen to the French lawyer. Therefore, the jury had to render a verdict based on an incomplete record if a case involved both French and English litigants. [24] After his victory in the Louisiana court, Gaines had more success in his subsequent appearances before the Supreme Court. When the court of Patterson v. Gaines (1848) had already concluded that Gaines had a cause of action. Gaines argued that she was Clark`s rightful heir, not only under the 1813 will, but also under the 1811 will, which was the only will considered by the court.

Charles Patterson, the purchaser of some of Clark`s land, challenged his claims in the lawsuit, in which the question depended on whether Gaines was Clark`s legitimate child. According to the Louisiana Civil Code, a father cannot disinherit a legitimate child; No more than one-fifth of an estate could be withdrawn from his children. [32] Therefore, it was not necessary for Gaines to be named in the 1811 will. As Clark`s legitimate child, Gaines was entitled to four-fifths of his estate. However, an “adulterous bastard” was not a legitimate child within the meaning of the Code. Adulterous bastards were children conceived “from an illegal union” of two people who were married to someone else, or both. [33] In other words, if Carrière`s previous marriage was valid, then Gaines was an adulterous bastard and not a plaintiff under the 1811 will, because his association with Clark was bigamus. Fortunately for Gaines, bigamy was difficult to prove, given the laxity of communities in keeping marriage records. In upholding the district court`s decision in favor of Gaines, the Supreme Court exercised its proper powers to sort through and evaluate significant amounts of testimony, wills, land deals, and documents. [34] Gaines eventually argued a trial in Barnes v.

Gaines (1843), a lawsuit filed by Gaines` alleged half-sister, Caroline Barnes, in Louisiana district court. It was Gaines` illegal possession of land under Clark`s estate. The case took an unexpected turn when his lawyer withdrew from the courtroom after an argument with the judge. Gaines argued his own claims before the jury at the risk of losing another trial. During the nineteenth century, their decision was almost unprecedented, as judges generally refused to allow women to appear as witnesses. [30] The accepted view was that women were less able to speak rationally or rationally than men. However, Gaines took the opportunity to act as his own lawyer and demonstrate his mastery of the intricacies of his claims. Barnes was the first victory in a Gaines case.

Given the intense public scrutiny of the trial, the judge refused to grant Barnes a new trial and was forced to conduct an extraordinary search for an impartial jury. [31] This is the third article in a six-month series on women`s history in New Orleans. To learn more about Louisiana women who fought for the right to vote, click here. And discover here a fascinating waffle iron tool used by the Ursiline nuns. Newspapers in Philadelphia, New York, and New Orleans also published recurring articles about Gaines and his lawsuits. However, the litigants` relationship with the media was mutually beneficial. From the beginning, the parties took their demands to the newspapers that published their stories, but not without their own comments. Immediately, New Orleans newspapers strongly supported Relf and Chew, while Gaines received strong support from the Northern press. Southern newspapers often questioned Gaines` true motivation and praised Relf and Chew`s determination to rise above speculation. On the other hand, Northern newspapers were moved by elements of romance and tragedy that marked Gaines` life, often referring to his case as the cause of an injured orphan. [41] On or about 16.11.2012, the matter was settled after the first decision on the application for dismissal, but before the decision on a summary judgment.

On or about 13.11.2014, the case was settled at an unspecified “Other” stage. Several factors helped highlight Gaines` lawsuits. First, some of the trials were heard by some of the country`s most famous lawyers. Litigators such as Daniel Webster, John A. Campbell, Francis Scott Key and Reverdy Johnson made sure their case stayed on the front page. Second, Gaines gained great attention through her second marriage in 1839 to the war hero, General Edmund Pendleton Gaines. In fact, the General`s court to Myra Clark Whitney made national headlines. [43] At the time of their marriage, the general was known as the “hero of Fort Erie” because of his victories in the War of 1812 and was celebrated with medals of bravery in various states.

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