The Minister of Justice before his CJR judges

Éric Dupond-Moretti, Minister of Justice, appears this Monday, November 6, before the Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR), for “illegal taking of interests”. A first under the 5ᵉ République.

Eric Dupond-Moretti
Eric Dupond-Moretti

This is a first. A current Minister of Justice will have to explain himself before a court competent to judge crimes and misdemeanors committed by members of the government in the performance of their duties.

A motion of no confidence

Since his appointment to the Place Vendôme on July 6, 2020, Eric Dupond-Moretti has continued to generate waves of protest in the judicial world. Following demonstrations and the vote of no-confidence in their minister, the two main unions – the Union Syndicale des Magistrats (USM) and the Syndicat de la Magistrature (SM) – have lodged a complaint with the French Court of Justice against Eric Dupond-Moretti.
In a press release, the magistrates explain: “Can a Minister of Justice, Keeper of the Seals, and former lawyer, request pre-disciplinary proceedings against magistrates who have been involved in cases concerning him or his former clients?

The wiretapping affair

To understand this, you need to remember that lawyer Dupond-Moretti was the target of an investigation by the French National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) into the Nicolas Sarkozy wiretapping case. Me Dupond-Moretti filed a complaint at the time. Once appointed to the Place Vendôme, he withdrew his complaint. However, when he became Minister of Justice, Dupond-Moretti referred the matter to the Inspectorate General of Justice (IGJ) to investigate the possible misconduct of three named PNF magistrates who had been working on the Sarkozy case and had therefore examined his telephone records (the famous fadettes).
The Minister of Justice thus became both judge and party, according to the magistrates.
The magistrates’ unions alerted the President of the Republic, expressed their anger and filed a complaint against their Minister. “Eric Dupond-Moretti, as a lawyer, wanted to punish magistrates who had dealt with cases concerning one of his clients (the Levrault case) or concerning himself and those close to him (the PNF case), write the USM and the SM…. With this complaint, we are seeking first and foremost to obtain respect for the law”.

“An institution of false asses

Since his appointment to the Place Vendôme on July 6, 2020, Eric Dupond-Moretti has been giving magistrates a hard time. This renowned criminal lawyer, French champion of acquittals at assizes, has never made a secret of his real repulsion for the judiciary, “an institution of faux-culs, a small world of self-importance and irresponsibility”, he would say. Magistrates, in turn, describe Dupond-Moretti as a “courtroom terrorist”. In short, a true love affair between those who judge and the man who (with talent) defends delinquents and criminals.

“Traces of cocaine”

This aversion to magistrates may date back to 1993, when as a young lawyer he was involved in a murky cocaine affair, traces of which were found in his car. This led to a search and police custody. He didn’t like it.
Nevertheless, “the Fat Man”, as he is friendly nicknamed by his colleagues, continued his career to become one of the legendary tenors of the bar.
His appointment as Keeper of the Seals was seen by magistrates as a provocation on the part of the President of the Republic. “Everyone is waiting for him at the edge of the woods with a shotgun”, said one magistrate.

Applauded by inmates

It’s true that the brand-new Minister of Justice, and great hunter before the Eternal, has done nothing to calm things down. His first official visit was to Fresnes prison, where he was warmly applauded by the inmates. What a surprise!
But above all, the magistrates saw two decisions by the Minister of Justice as a real affront: the opening of an administrative investigation against three magistrates from the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) and the appointment of a criminal lawyer, Nathalie Roret, to head the prestigious École Nationale de la Magistrature (ENM) in Bordeaux, rather than a magistrate as has been the case since its creation in 1958. It’s true that, when he was still a lawyer, Dupond-Moretti advocated abolishing the ENM and replacing it with a school that would train both lawyers and magistrates.

The Minister of Justice will be on trial from November 6 to 17, 2023, but will remain at his post. Elisabeth Borne announced that the Minister of Justice would leave the government if convicted.