On May 13, 1957, the Time Picayune printed an article announcing the organization of the Louis A. Martinet Legal Society of Louisiana. The founders were: Earl J. Amedee, Israel M. Augustine, Louis Berry, Lionel Collins, Robert F. Collins, Nils R. Douglas, Lolis E. Elie, Norman C. Francis, Benjamin J. Johnson, Alvin Jones, Vance B. LaCour, Ernest N. Morial, Revius O. Ortique, Jr., J. T. Powell, James smith, A. P. Tureaud, Freddie Warren and Lawrence Wheeler. According to the article, A. P. Tureaud was elected president of the statewide and the local New Orleans Chapter. Other state officers included Earl J. Amedee, Financial Secretary; Vanue B. Lacour (Baton Rouge), Corresponding secretary; and J. T. Powell (Shreveport), Treasurer. The local officers included Amedee, Secretary and Benjamin J. Johnson, Treasurer.
The Society’s objectives were to encourage interchange of ideas, promote legal scholarship, advance the science of jurisprudence, promote the administration of justice, uphold the order and ethics of the courts and the profession of law and promote the welfare of the legal profession in Louisiana.
The Society is named after Louis Andre Martinet, who was the first Black graduate of Straight University Law School in 1876. In addition, he was an editor, doctor and teacher. In 1891, he organized the Citizen’s Committee to offer legal resistance to the Separate Car Law of Louisiana, which led to his role as a key strategist in the Plessy v. Ferguson case. Because Martinet was not admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, he selected S. F. Phillips and A. W. Tourgee to serve as attorneys of record. Additionally, under the leadership of Martinet and R. L. Desdunes, various Black attorneys mobilized the community efforts, shaped the case and edited a key document in the appellate process.
Other Black attorneys practicing in Louisiana during Martinet’s era included: C. Clay Morgan, Louis A. Bell, Thomas Morris Chester, Eugene Luscy, R. L. Desdunes, Robert Brown Elliott, Thomas de Saille Tucker, Pinckney Benton, Steward Pinchback, John Francis Patty, Rene C. Metoyer, Joseph A. Thornton, James Madison Vance, Jr., James Vance Lewis, James Madison Pierce, Charles Robertson and Frank B. Smith.
Today, there are over 600 African American attorneys, judges and other elected officials in the Greater New Orleans area. The Greater New Orleans Louis A. Martinet Legal Society meets on the first Tuesday of every month at the Civil District Court Building.