Litigation Masters in the Colonial Andes: Procurators and Lawsuits in Lima and Potosí, 1550–1670

Sunday, January 10, 2010: 8:30 AM
Manchester Ballroom G (Hyatt)
Renzo R. Honores , High Point University, High Point, NC
This paper explores the world and judicial activities of procurators in the first-instance courts and tribunals of Lima and Potosí. Procurators were the true masters of litigation. They assumed not only the legal representation of their clients, but also handled their disputes, prepared the evidence, and filed numerous pleas. In addition, procurators were in permanent and close contact with magistrates and litigants. Due to an extrapolation of the 'current' system of judicial representation in Latin America, the historiography has neglected the crucial role of procurators. Such historical “backstreaming” explains why Latin Americanist historiography has devoted so much attention to lawyers (or attorneys) rather than procurators. This paper seeks to show the relevance of procurators in civil and canonical litigation. Some specific cases serve to illustrate their careers, successes, social reputation, and the complexity of the legal profession in the colonial Andes. Even though lawyers considered procurators as a 'lower branch' of the legal profession, procurators emphasized the importance of their own position by portraying themselves as important actors of the legal process. This paper also examines their 'social images' and discusses why and how their negative stereotypes were created.
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