Arrived as a “star” in a government that lacked it, the former tenor of the bar Eric Dupond-Moretti brought the ardor of his pleadings to politics, but was overwhelmed by accusations of conflicts of interest which ” parasitized” his action and today earned him an unprecedented indictment.
“I could have quietly waited for retirement,” he admitted when he took office at Place Vendôme last summer, after his surprise appointment. “But I decided to commit myself”. A year later, the one who celebrated his 60th birthday in April became the first Minister of Justice indicted by the Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR), and his future is uncertain. However, this novice in politics who likes to repeat that he draws his legitimacy from his “36 years” spent in the courts, and from a “carnal” knowledge of justice, had been able to find his marks.
In the National Assembly at the start, he was heckled by the deputies, he who had sworn that he would “never” accept to be a minister. Since then, he has defended 17 texts before Parliament, including his own project for “confidence” in justice, adopted at first reading in May.
“Caught in the Game”
He “got caught up in the game”, note several elected officials, regained the outspokenness that made his reputation in the courtrooms, while remaining in the nails imposed by his function. His first candidacy for an election, in the regional elections in June where he wanted to “drive out” the National Rally of Hauts-de-France, however ended in a severe thrashing. However, he remains “one of the only ones who knows how to respond directly to the RN within the government”, notes an LREM parliamentarian.
A media and divisive lawyer, accustomed to TV sets and even theater boards where he began to play in 2019, Eric Dupond-Moretti was probably the most well-known criminal lawyer to the general public. He notably defended Patrick Balkany, Jérôme Cahuzac, Abdelkader Merah, Yvan Colonna and the baker from Outreau – the rape case became a scandal which made him known. With his “big mouth”, his build and his intimidating voice, he impressed, bullied and shook the courts of assizes all over France. His 140 torn acquittals earned him a nickname: “Acquittator”.
“The ogre of the North”, of “mixed blood” he says, was born in Maubeuge (Hauts-de-France) to a metalworker father who died when he was four years old and an Italian immigrant mother and wife household. Father of two children, in a relationship with the Canadian singer Isabelle Boulay and master of a wire-haired dachshund named Jean-Claude, this heavy smoker and fan of Georges Brassens – an old vinyl throne in his office – was rather classified on the left before his entry into government. He has the reputation of being grumpy, grumpy. “He is”, confirms his friend the lawyer Edouard Martial. But he is also “extremely warm and very loyal in friendship”, he says – to those close to him, “he will open his door at any time of the night”.
A year after his appointment, “the guy I knew has not changed”, also says Me Martial. Lawyer as minister, “he goes into the field”. And his legal troubles? “He’s a fighter, I don’t imagine for a moment that he’s going to give up,” he sweeps.
Eric Dupond-Moretti’s former colleagues had welcomed his arrival rather well, but some were put off by his “catch-all” bill, and especially his “turnaround” on the generalization of criminal courts – which judge some crimes without popular jurors. When he wore the dress, Dupond-Moretti had fought against them by denouncing the “death of the assize court”.
Among the magistrates with whom he had never been kind, his appointment had come as a shock. “A declaration of war,” said Céline Parisot, president of the Union of Judges. A few months later, they accused him of taking advantage of his functions as a minister to settle accounts as a lawyer, and filed the complaint at the origin of the investigation by the CJR. “We can’t talk to someone like that so we stopped talking to him,” says Céline Parisot. And his action as minister? “A lot of com’. He especially finished a lot of things that had started (his predecessor) Nicole Belloubet”, she tackles.
On the side of the entourage, we denounce “manoeuvres” of “interference” from the unions, which would not have reached the “sympathy capital” of the minister. And do not prevent him from working or “shaking up habits”, we are assured. The Keeper of the Seals, who currently enjoys the support of the President of the Republic who has come to fetch him, repeats that he is “serene”. “The talent of a great lawyer is to reverse the situation and convince everyone,” said a minister. No doubt he is touched. But it would be wrong to do without it.”