This work outlines the development of defamation law in Louisiana from the early 1800's to the present day by examining both the written law (constitutional, codal and statutory) and the major state and federal judicial decisions (civil and criminal). The written law and the court decisions are examined chronologically to trace changes in the law. Research reveals the history of Louisiana's defamation law to have been influenced by both European civil law and English common law traditions. Because of the state's civil law origins, Louisiana's defamation law has developed in a rather unique way. Old distinctions have blurred, however, and in recent years, Louisiana has consistently fallen in line with U.S. Supreme Court Pronouncements.
Gerald Flannery is Professor of Communications at The University of Southwestern Louisiana in Lafayette.