John A. Rockwell CLE


National Portrait Gallery Smithsonian Institution

On January 7, 2013, the Law Library of Louisiana and The Supreme Court of Louisiana Historical Society sponsored a free one-hour CLE entitled “John A. Rockwell and the origins of U.S.-Mexico Litigation.”  An attorney and Whig congressman from Connecticut, John A. Rockwell (1803-1861) established an innovative cross-border law practice specializing in claims involving Mexico.  Bringing lawsuits over harm to foreign nationals during the Mexican political unrest of the 1840s and 1850s, Rockwell became expert in arguing Hispanic legal doctrine before international tribunals, and was co-counsel with Louisiana lawyer Judah P. Benjamin in the New Almaden, California, quicksilver mine case in the U.S. federal courts.  Based on his research for this litigation, Rockwell produced the first comprehensive English-language treatise on Spanish and Mexican mining and real estate law, which became widely used in the southwestern territories annexed after the Mexican War and is still cited in contemporary property disputes.  While he shared the indecisiveness of many Whigs over the sectional divisions ultimately leading to the Civil War, Rockwell’s steps to create a language of international legal communication set a precedent for the globalized practice of today.

The speaker, Peter L. Reich, J.D., Ph.D., is Professor of Law and Sumner Scholar at Whittier Law School, where he is Director of Whittier’s Environmental Law Concentration and Mexico City Program.  His most recent publication is the scholarly introduction to John A. Rockwell’s A Compilation of Spanish and Mexican Law in Relation to Mines and Titles to Real Estate (1851), reissued by Lawbook Exchange.

Professor Reich was introduced by Professor Ray Rabalais, Eleanor Legier Sarpy Distinguished Professor,

Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, and SCLHS member.