Louisiana v. Mississippi

RESPONDENT: Mississippi
LOCATION: Former Spot Club Location

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)

CITATION: 384 US 24 (1966)
ARGUED: Nov 16, 1965 / Dec 10, 1963
DECIDED: Apr 18, 1966

Edward M. Carmouche - Assistant Attorney General of Louisiana, for the plaintiff
John L. Madden - Assistant Attorney General of Louisiana, for the plaintiff
Landman Teller - Special Assistant to the Attorney General, for the defendants
Martin R. McLendon - Assistant Attorney General of Mississippi, for the defendants

Facts of the case


Media for Louisiana v. Mississippi

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 10, 1963 (Part 1) in Louisiana v. Mississippi
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 10, 1963 (Part 2) in Louisiana v. Mississippi

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 16, 1965 in Louisiana v. Mississippi

Earl Warren:

Number 14, Original, State of Louisiana, Plaintiff, versus the State of Mississippi.

Mr. Madden, you may proceed with your arguments.

John L. Madden:

Mr. Chief Justice and Associate Justices of this Honorable Court.

A first few words that I shall say will -- I will -- ameliorating to this Court, because I said substantially the same thing I gave before standing before this Court when I had the privilege of doing so I introduced the argument in this manner, my recollection of how we came into this Court and why.

And we have a new justice on the Supreme Court in the meantime.

And I'll just simply say that this controversy had its inception in a suit that was filed by certain Mississippi landowners and a District Court of the United States in Mississippi.

It was directed solely against Humble Oil and Refining Company, Louisiana's mineral lessee.

The Mississippi landowners alleged in their complaint, as they were the owners of an oil well which was drilled by Carter Oil Company which merged with Humble Oil on December the 1st, 1959.

Under its lease from the drill site in Louisiana to an oil producing zone and bottomed in the bed of the Mississippi River.

Plaintiffs, Mr. Carrols and Carrols (ph) family claimed that the oil well was producing within the State of Mississippi from lands which they had come to own by a reason now were shift in the main channel of the Mississippi River.

The title to Louisiana's property having been attacked in that suit, Louisiana filed a motion, this Honorable Court believed to file a complaint and all that the court did before this Court, the only tribunal that could pass on all of the issues.

And we made as defendants, the State of Mississippi, the Mississippi landowners now lessees on them giving everyone the right to come in and be heard subject to granting the pleading granted by this Court.

The United States district judge issued an order staying the proceedings in the Federal District Court with all of the necessary parties both public and private being before this Court after leave was granted to file a complaint, this Court in our -- in its order that we interpreted it, accept the jurisdiction for all purposes.

The Special Master then conducted hearings, took evidence and heard all authorities, both private and public wishing to be heard.

He has filed his report and we are here on exceptions to that report.

It is my purpose to state the facts in this original action, particularly all of the controlling facts on which Louisiana predicates its exceptions to the Special Master report, the effects in this case dominate because they are unprecedented in boundary actions heretofore decided by this Honorable Court.

My Associate Counsel, Mr. Carmouche shall follow me to discuss the existing jurisprudence and the legal phases of the Court.

It is appropriate to say at the start that Louisiana concurs fully in all of the truly important parts of the Special Master's findings of fact.

In his illuminating résumé of facts highlighting his report, the Special Master lightens the Mississippi River to assert between Carlyle, Illinois and the Gulf of Mexico, referring of course to the continuous bends or loops near the river extending ultimately from east to west throughout the descent of the river and in widening its way to the Gulf of Mexico.

The expert witnesses at the hearings conducted by the Special Master, agreed that the deepest part of the river by the channel is in the concave portion of the -- where the force of the river strikes hard against the bank causing erosion and caving.

While across the river, in the convex area, where the water is shallow accretion is formed to the bank.

They explained that the river in the concave area crosses over to the next bend in the concave area and then again following its course downstream.

Now material from the concave bank is deposited on the next convex bank.

Caving is the result of the direction of a channel against the concave bank where the deepest portion of the river is found.

Scouring may take place in the deeper portion of the river where there are high velocities.

If the banks are composed of homogenous material, the expert say that bends are rather uniform.

However, resistant material such as clay or clay deposits when encountered by river action form a bank called a false keep or hard point.

And where there are such tough or resistant soil have been developed slowly and is partly controlled in configuration by that soil.

Clay pugs are characterized as cohesive hanging together forming a resistant mass to any channel obscuring action of the river, and are quite thick.

The experts reported crossings in the river as extending to relatively straight regions.