The LSU Law family is mourning the passing of Professor George W. Pugh, who made tremendous contributions to the Paul M. Hebert Law Center as a celebrated student, professor and supporter of LSU Law.
Pugh passed away from natural causes at the age of 94 on April 7 at his home in Baton Rouge. He was buried on Good Friday, April 10, at Christ Episcopal Church in Napoleonville, next to his beloved wife of 60 years, Jean H. Pugh.
“George Pugh is among the most towering figures and legal scholars in the 114-year history of LSU Law,” said LSU Law Interim Dean Lee Ann Lockridge. “We are forever grateful for his service to the Paul M. Hebert Law Center, and we send our condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.”
Born in 1925, Pugh was raised in the small town of Napoleonville. He joined the U.S Army in 1943 and was deployed to France during World War II. After the war, George graduated with a B.A. from LSU in 1947, and then earned his law degree at LSU Law in 1950, graduating at the top of his class.
After earning a Doctor of Juridical Science at Yale Law School in 1952, he became a faculty member at LSU Law later that year. Over the next 42 years, Pugh distinguished himself as one of the most respected and loved professors at the law school. His classes were intense, marked by close attention to the facts, rigorous examination of the text, and an immense fount of knowledge that could be brought to bear on any issue. He taught his students profound lessons about what the law can—and should—be, forming lasting friendships with many of them in the process.
Widely known as the “father” of the Louisiana Evidence Code, Pugh was the coordinator and co-reporter of the Code of Evidence for the Louisiana State Law Institute, which was enacted into state law in 1988. A consistent voice for reason, moderation, and intellectual honesty in the administration of justice, he was noted for his expertise in Evidence, Criminal Justice, Federal Jurisdiction and Procedure, and Comparative Law.
In 1998, George and Jean established the George W. and Jean H. Pugh Institute for Justice at LSU Law to promote justice for individuals in the administration of the criminal and civil justice systems in the state of Louisiana and elsewhere.
Among his many accomplishments and accolades, Pugh was honored with the Distinguished Professor Award from the Louisiana Bar Foundation in 2012. In 2019, the Legislature of Louisiana passed a Concurrent Resolution that honored his career and lauded him as “a legal theorist without par and one of Louisiana’s most influential legal scholars,” and went on to note that “his expertise reshaped Louisiana evidence law and his teaching has produced multiple generations of law professionals, attorneys, judges, and professors.” Read the full resolution.
Along with his service at LSU Law, Pugh and his family traveled overseas at different times in his career to conduct comparative law studies in France, South Africa, and the Philippines, and to teach summer sessions in France and Greece. He also taught at the University of Virginia Law School and the University of Texas Law School as a visiting professor. He was published frequently, consulted often, and continued to contribute to the legal lore of Louisiana even after his retirement. He received the “Hub” Cotton Faculty Excellence Award at LSU, an honorary doctorate of law from the University of Aix-Marseille III in France, and was named a Sterling Fellow at Yale Law School.
In lieu of flowers, the Pugh family has asked that donations be made to the George and Jean Pugh Institute for Justice or the George Pugh Memorial Fund. Donations can be made online by including a gift comment noting the recipient as either the Pugh Institute for Justice or the Pugh Memorial Fund.