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Oliver O. Provosty

Oliver O. Provosty served as the chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court in 1922.

Oliver O. Provosty

Courtesy of The Law Library of Louisiana

Olivier O. Provosty. Leroy, Paul (Artist)

Olivier Otis Provosty was the eleventh chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, a position he held for less than a year. In 1901, he was appointed as associate justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court by Gov. W. W. Heard; he continued in office after winning election to the court in 1908. He served as chief justice from January 2 to December 30, 1922, but decided not to run for another term and voluntarily retired.

Provosty was born in Pointe Coupee Parish on August 3, 1852, to Auguste and Eliska Labry Provosty. His father served in the Louisiana legislature and was a member of the Louisiana secession convention in 1861. Provosty was educated at home and at the Poydras Academy before attending Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. After his father’s death in 1868, he left Georgetown just before graduation and returned to Louisiana, where he studied law at the University of Louisiana. He was admitted to the Louisiana bar on January 14, 1873, at age twenty and was immediately elected district attorney for Pointe Coupee, Avoyelles, and West Feliciana Parishes, a position he held until 1876. From 1888 to 1892 Provosty represented Avoyelles Parish in the Louisiana Senate and was an opponent of the Louisiana Lottery and the convict lease system. Provosty was a member of the 1898 Louisiana Constitutional Convention, and from 1898 to 1901 he served as a bankruptcy referee for the Baton Rouge division of the Eastern Judicial District of Louisiana. Provosty was also chairman of the Torrens Land Law Commission in 1904 and a member of the Louisiana Tax Commission in 1912.

On his retirement, the Louisiana Bar Association presented Provosty with a silver loving cup as a token of esteem. Provosty earned respect and admiration for his knowledge of the civil law, a system in which he took great pride. At his retirement ceremony, Provosty exhorted young lawyers “not to let the cruder common law supplant our so much more developed and perfected system of the civil law.” He improved the operation of the court by discontinuing the custom of reading opinions aloud in conference and of reading opinions and minutes aloud in open court, a time-saving and more efficient method.

Provosty married Euphemie Labatut of Pointe Coupee Parish on December 27, 1876, and they had seven children. He died in New Orleans on August 3, 1924, and is interred at Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans.