It must be a “Total overhaul” justice in France, promises the Elysee. In the midst of the controversy over the slowness of the judicial machine, Emmanuel Macron launched Monday, October 18, the Estates General of Justice, which will have to develop proposals for “Put back to flat” the system for 2022 and beyond; a bequest for the next five-year term. In Poitiers, the President of the Republic, accompanied by the Keeper of the Seals, Eric Dupond-Moretti, will deliver a speech at the Palais des Congrès and discuss with professionals, law enforcement, students and citizens of Vienne.
These States General will bring together for several months, in working groups, the entire justice ecosystem: judges, prosecutors, clerks, auxiliaries, lawyers, bailiffs, prison supervisors … They will work until mid-January to structure the debate and shed light on it based on the elements raised from the consultation phase, whether it is about civil justice, criminal justice, economic and social justice, prison justice and reintegration, or the evolution of missions and statutes.
They had been requested at the beginning of June by the two highest magistrates in France, Chantal Arens, first president of the Court of Cassation, and François Molins, the attorney general at the Court of Cassation, worried about “Systematic questioning of justice”, criticized for its slowness and accused of laxity by police unions and political leaders.
Discomfort of the judges
The third phase, until the end of February 2022, will consist of the drafting of the summary supposed to formalize the proposals. It will be entrusted to an independent commission chaired by Jean-Marc Sauvé. “The credibility of the exercise will make it possible, whatever the executive in power in 2022, to take up the proposals of the States General, because they will not come from the current executive”, we explain to the Elysee. No limit is given to the ideas that will emerge. “It is a carte de blanche that the President of the Republic wishes to give. “ But he will not deprive himself of “Reform until the last minute”, if proposals can be implemented without going through the law.
Received by the Head of State, they spoke of the discomfort of the judges and called for this exercise. An exacerbated discomfort following a large demonstration, on May 19, of tens of thousands of police officers in front of the National Assembly, in the presence in particular of the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, and many elected Republicans and National rally, but also some leftist figures, including Anne Hidalgo and Yannick Jadot, presidential candidates.
Also, the malaise of the magistrates arises in full tension between part of the magistracy and the keeper of the seals, indicted in July for “illegal taking of interests”. Mr. Dupont-Moretti is suspected of having taken advantage of his function as Minister of Justice to settle accounts with magistrates with whom he had to deal from when he was a lawyer, which he refutes.
Within the magistrates’ unions, the States General are viewed with caution. “It’s pure display. We expect a lot of foam, a lot of political communication, which is tiring for us, even quite contemptuous ”, reacted, Monday, Sarah Massoud, national secretary of the Syndicate of the magistrature (classified on the left) on RMC. Cécile Mamelin, vice-president of the Union Syndicale des Magistrates (USM, majority), believes that “The timing is not good” and that this consultation “Comes too close to the end of the five-year term to be taken seriously”. “We were kept informed of nothing and we do not have too many illusions about the final result”, did she say.
For their part, the two senior magistrates denounce a justice “Under-budgeted”, very far for example from the level of Germany. In response, the Elysée argues an increase in the number of magistrates since 2017 (650) and a 33% increase in the justice budget over the five-year term.
These States General, the presidency promised, will be organized in complete independence from the executive. The consultations which will take place throughout France will be piloted by an independent commission, chaired by the senior official Jean-Marc Sauvé, already at the head of the commission of inquiry into the sexual abuse of minors in the Church.
This committee will also include the two senior magistrates as well as the chairmen of the law committees of the Assembly and the Senate, to ensure an approach “Transpartisan”, said the Elysee. It will formulate proposals at the end of February, which will be submitted to the executive. The commission will have ” flames “ for “A total overhaul”, promises the Elysee. It is therefore a question of going much further than the current one. “Law for confidence in the judicial institution”, under consideration in Parliament, a flagship measure of which is to be able to film the trials.
Program framework for a possible second term
As for the fate of the proposals that will emerge, the presidency assures that “Anything that may come under the regulations will be carried as quickly as possible, with pragmatism. The Keeper of the Seals will be in charge of managing this until the elections ”. On the other hand, since the Assembly will have finished its session – which will end at the end of February, a month and a half before the presidential election – all that will come under the law, including what requires budgetary financing, will have to wait for the next five-year term.
These proposals could therefore provide Mr. Macron with a program framework for a possible second term, even if the Elysee denies such an intention. “It is not the president who asked for these States General to have his program written down”, insists a counselor. These proposals will join those that the president is starting to spell out for a deadline going beyond April 2022, so many potential bricks of a future program.
Like the France 2030 investment plan, the 2022 planning and orientation bill for internal security, which should plan action in the field of security over five years. Or the experimentation in Marseille of “Schools of the future”, whose principals could choose the teachers.