The malaise is deep in the judicial institution. Magistrates, clerks, lawyers, have been denouncing for years a “sick justice”. A small jurisdiction like Albi is no exception to the rule.
On Wednesday, a tide of black dresses marched through many cities in France. Magistrates, clerks, lawyers…, justice professionals demonstrated all over the country to demand “worthy” means for justice. This general mobilization for justice, at the call of seventeen organizations, was massively followed (read our previous edition).
In Albi, a “small” court compared to other courts in large cities, the malaise is also palpable. Sylvie Marco is a principal clerk at the Albi court. Franck Alzingre, magistrate, is the president, and Jean-Baptiste Alary is the president of the bar association of Albi. While the State launched last October the Estates General of Justice, in order to “draw up an inventory of the situation of Justice in our country and to formulate concrete proposals to put Justice at the center of the democratic debate”, the three justice professionals are like their colleagues who demonstrated everywhere in France, exhausted.
“We must stop with the multiplicity of reforms”, they say with one voice. “We spend our time trying not to wallow in the procedure,” loose Me Alary. “We can not follow, we do not have time to digest a reform that a new one intervenes. If we are wrong, our responsibility can be engaged”, abounds Franck Alzingre. And to continue. “In small jurisdictions like Albi, the magistrates do everything. In the morning we can be at the JAF (family affairs judge), in the afternoon at the correctional… We need time to train, to digest the reforms” . Sylvie Marco adds. “The sequence of reforms is done without digital and human resources. The IT tools are not up to date and this considerably increases our workload”. The principal clerk continues to preach for her parish. “There are massive recruitments of contract workers, but this is not an answer. These are people who must be trained, to see them leave after a few months.”
Shortcomings at all levels
Time is what justice lacks today. Doing things faster and better, with less, is starting to wear down professionals. “We all went to law school, that’s not what we learned, to do small calculations”, thunders the president. “For a decision to be made, you have to weigh the pros and cons, it takes time, you have to respect the contradictory. The law is becoming more complex and you always have to go faster, it’s not possible”, supports the president of the court.
France devotes €69 per inhabitant to justice, while Germany spends €131. “In the 40 countries of the European continent, France is 36th on the budget allocated to justice”, still deplores Franck Alzingre. Although the 2021 justice budget has increased by 8%, we are still far from the mark, judge the professionals. “Our salaries are very low, the job is not attractive. Clerks are not considered,” says Sylvie Marco. “We must also speak of the total indigence of legal aid in France, which is unworthy of the work carried out by lawyers”, accuses Me Alary.
Lack of means, personnel, consideration, the malaise is deep, with, in the background, relations between professionals which are deteriorating and vocations which are being lost. “We are all part of the same judicial family, and the successive reforms only distance us from each other a little more each day”, concludes the chairman.
The court, how does it work?
Today, few people really know how justice works, to the chagrin of the president of the court Franck Alzingre. “It’s a shame, if we want to be understood, we have to explain what we are doing and how. Our role is also to restore social ties. I therefore undertake to welcome three readers of La Dépêche during an afternoon at the beginning of 2022 so that they can accompany us and explain to them how a court works, explain the role of the judge, the prosecutor, etc. (to be selected, contact La dépêche on 05 63 49 45 65 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org).