The justice reform project was presented Friday, April 20 in the Council of Ministers. A long text, some provisions are relatively consensus while others arouse a broad protest both lawyers and magistrates.
“Judicial deserts”, “privatization of justice”: lawyers and magistrates make common front against the project of reform of justice. An official text presented in the Council of Ministers by the custody of the Seals, Nicole Belloubet, Friday, April 20th. The copy has already been revised, since the creation of a national antiterrorist prosecutor’s office, which was to appear there, was postponed, according to the opinion of the Council of State. Composed of sixty articles, the bill sweeps several fields of justice, with the ambition of simplifying procedures and “restore confidence” in the judicial system, according to the terms of the bill.
While some provisions are rather consensual, others are decried by lawyers and magistrates, who have multiplied the days “dead justice” for several weeks in protest. Franceinfo takes stock of the main measures of this river text and the arguments of its detractors.
The merger of the district and high courts
That is to say ? The bill provides for the administrative merger of the District Court and the High Court (TGI) . IT is a place of proximity justice, where civil cases are judged (over-indebtedness, unpaid rent, guardianship, etc.), for which the request concerns sums of less than 10,000 euros. When this figure is exceeded, the TGI took over.
Why is this point disputed? This measure is among the most contested by lawyers and magistrates. The Union of Magistrates (USM, majority) believes that the merger will lead to the abolition of 300 magistrates courts and the function of the magistrate. Nicole Belloubet assures however that no court will close. In unison – which is rare enough to point out – lawyers and magistrates fear the appearance of “judicial deserts” and the transformation of some local jurisdictions into an “empty shell”, note Release .
Experimentation of a “departmental criminal court”
That is to say ? Experimentation with a “departmental criminal court” is the other major announcement of this bill. Between the Assize Court and the Criminal Court, he will mainly judge crimes of up to twenty years’ imprisonment. It will deal in particular with rapes, deadly blows or armed robberies. It will not be composed of a popular jury, unlike the Assize Courts. But he will decide on a little more than half of the cases that are now sitting, leaving them mainly murders and murders, punishable by more than twenty years.
Why is this point disputed? Requested by the USM for several years, this measure has not aroused an uproar among all magistrates. But the Judicial Union denounces a “degraded justice” . ” The Assize Court, with the jurors, it is the only justice where it is impossible to pressurize the judges to make the slaughter ” , says his president in Point. Some lawyers also sound the alarm. The National Bar Council (CNB), fiercely opposed to the provision, sees the risk of success “. to an extension of the correctionalization for all the crimes which puts forward the management of the flows and the budget approach on the quality of the trial of assizes (…) to the detriment of the rights of the defense “.
The reform of criminal procedure
That is to say ? Optional presentation of the suspect before the prosecutor to prolong the police custody, prolongation of the duration of the investigation of flagrance for certain crimes, widening of telephone tapping in preliminary investigation, extension of the investigations under pseudonyms … At several stages of the criminal procedure, the prerogatives of the prosecution are enlarged.
Why is this point disputed? This evolution is widely disputed by lawyers, the CNB denouncing “a new regression of the rights of the defense and civil liberties” .
The development of mediation
That is to say ? For litigation up to 10,000 euros, it will be mandatory, before going to court, to attempt conciliation with a conciliation officer, a mediator or a participatory procedure between lawyers, explains The world . The conciliators of justice are free, but not numerous enough. The government therefore proposes to develop the use of online mediation by opening up to private platforms the possibility of amicably resolving conflicts, 20 minutes .
Why is this point disputed? Professionals fear a “Privatization” of Justice. Jean-Jacques Prugnot, a lawyer at the Aube Bar, says, for example, JDD than “the government wants to outsource some procedures by privatizing them to remove material from the courts at the risk of leading to a lower quality of justice” . The cost of mediation would fall on the litigant. More generally, the CNB denounces a ” diversion “civil proceedings.
Digitization and dematerialized procedures
That is to say ? Over five years, 500 million euros will be invested in new software and hardware. Victims may, if they wish, file a complaint online and no longer need to go to the police station or gendarmerie brigade. In addition, a fully dematerialized procedure will be created: it will allow judgments without a hearing for the settlement of small civil disputes.
Why is this point disputed? Several lawyers are pointing in the JDD a risk of “dehumanisation” of procedures. “If the reform passes, it will be the end of the access of the litigant to his judge.Everything is done so that we do not see the judge.Digital, we can have a decision without meeting his judge, but he can not not make a good decision without meeting you ” , estimates Stéphane Dhonte, president of Lille.
The development of alternative sentences
That is to say ? Criminal sanctions will be reorganized to deal with prison overcrowding. As usual, the number of prisoners once again crossed the 70,000 mark on 1 April and reached a new record. Autonomous penalties of work of general interest, internships (in particular for convictions related to addiction, domestic violence and delinquency) and electronic bracelets will be introduced or extended. Another novelty is that short-term detentions will be largely limited and those under one month will be banned in order to relieve prison sentences, where the occupancy rate is 143%. On the other hand, sentences of more than one year’s imprisonment will no longer be feasible and release under duress will be systematic to two-thirds of sentences of less than five years. The echoes . Finally, The bill allows offenders to stay away from certain places for up to six months as part of alternatives to prosecution. It also allows for flat-rate fines for the offenses of selling alcohol to minors and the use of narcotics.
Why is this point disputed? The measurement causes “consternation” Magistrates’ unions. USM denounces “a disturbing lack of knowledge of the current provisions applicable to the pronouncement and execution of sentences” while the Judicial Union talked about “gadget measures” , point JDD .