In 1840, Lafayette Parish was rocked by an abortive slave insurrection. After 1840, the attention and energy of local law enforcement personnel was focused on maintaining order among the slave population. As a consequence, many white criminals, particularly petty thieves and rustlers preying on the area’s large but poorly supervised herds of cattle, wreaked havoc on law-abiding citizens. Yet, when these criminals were brought before the parish courts, public prosecutors could rarely obtain a conviction because of the outlaws’ ability to intimidate the jurors.