Eric Dupond-Moretti, the Minister of Justice, intends to maintain the flame of the Estates General of Justice by traveling to meet citizens. On January 7, the Keeper of the Seals thus responded for a little over two hours to a hundred people gathered at the end of the afternoon in the village hall of Avesnes-sur-Helpe (North). “Justice is done for you and in your name. You have your say, nothing is taboo, you can tell us everything”, he launched in the introduction. And to break the ice, while a few snow squalls crossed the Avesnois, Mr. Dupond-Moretti confided that he had made his first plea in “pre-internship”, even before becoming a lawyer, in the court of this town of 4,900 inhabitants.
In terms of the expectations of litigants, it is the concern of justice professionals that emerged during this exercise in which Jean-Marc Sauvé, president of the independent committee of the Estates General, took part. The mayor of the place and the president of the bar asked for assurances on the maintenance of the judicial court. “When we hear about justice reform, we tremble for our court, for our clients, for our offices”argued Sophie Level, at the head of a bar of forty members, while the commercial chamber and the criminal pole have already left for Valenciennes.
The president of the neighboring sub-prefecture does not feel privileged for all that. “Thirty-eight years ago, when I started out, the magistrate wanted to make the best decision possible. Today he is looking to get rid of a stock”, summarized the lawyer. And to denounce the successive reforms which have made the procedure more complex, in particular on appeal, “a way of keeping the litigant away from the courts”.
Standing in front of the stage, the Keeper of the Seals took obvious pleasure in responding to these reproaches. “Criticism is good, proposals are better, nihilism is unbearable”he said, recalling that thanks to the law for confidence in justice, an amicable agreement between the parties signed by their lawyers and registered at the registry must be executed as a court decision.
“We are a little afraid of justice”
The exercise turned more in defense of the balance sheet of the five-year term, in this period of pre-election campaign, than in the democratic blueprint of the Estates General of Justice supposed to bring up proposals from the field. For Mr Dupond-Moretti, “there is no legal risk” to close this “brand new” court. He then rebounded on the testimony of a young assistant lawyer recruited just a year ago as part of the thousand contract positions created for local justice. While she detailed what she had been able to put in place with the prosecutor’s delegates and the strengthened links with elected officials and associations, particularly in the fight against domestic violence, the Minister reassured her about the sustainability of his position. Initially planned on three-year contracts, these “fast sugars”, as he had baptized them, are called to remain in the jurisdictions, he promises. The court of Avesnes-sur-Helpe has eight.
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