“dead justice” action by clerks, magistrates and lawyers of the Palais de Justice at the opening of the Troadec trial

As the Troadec trial opens at the Nantes courthouse, on June 22, 2021, another trial takes place: that of Justice. Dozens of clerks, magistrates and lawyers lay down this morning in the waiting room to embody the “slow death” of justice in Nantes.

A few steps from the courtroom where the Troadec trial opens, this Tuesday, June 22, clerks, lawyers and magistrates from the Nantes Palace of Justice demonstrated. They denounced the state of systemic dysfunction of the Nantes judicial court.

behind a “justice show”, a difficult daily life at the Nantes court

They were about fifty, gathered at 8:45 this morning, on the forecourt of the Palais de Justice, just before the opening of the trial of Hubert Caouissin and Lydie Troadec, implicated in the quadruple murder which took place in Orvault in February 2017.

An extraordinary and high-profile trial for which more than 70 journalists have been accredited and which should see a large audience flock to a temporary structure, specially set up for the occasion in the courtroom of the Palais de Justice.

A trial “spectacle”, “a very beautiful showcase to show that justice works, considers Aurélien Pares, clerk at the Nantes court, but why only show the theatrical side? On a daily basis, justice in Nantes is not that. It’s a lot of suffering and too few means”.

To be heard and illustrated “the slow and silent death of justice in Nantes”Aurélien Pares invited everyone to lie down in the Salle des Pas Perdus, the grand entrance hall of the Palais de Justice.

Chronically understaffed

“We are tired of working for our absent colleagues”could be heard among the participants.There are too many holes to fill, clerks not or badly replaced by contractors who do not have the same prerogatives”.judged another person who prefers to remain anonymous.

The rally was aimed at denouncing “the mental and physical exhaustion of all court staff in a context of chronic understaffing”, indicated the leaflet distributed in the crowd, signed by all the unions.

General exhaustion

“Everyone is exhausted, testifies Aurélie Rolland, Nantes president of the Syndicate of lawyers of France (SAF). A few sick leaves have recently rocked the court. That’s enough to bring everything to a halt. It shows a chronic problem.” The numbers would indeed be underestimated, given the increase in the population of Nantes over the past 20 years and the growing litigation.

Behind these internal problems, external consequences on litigants. “We are here to support our fellow clerks and magistrates, who are working overtime to run this court, but also to denounce the consequences for our clients”, notes Yann Chaumette, lawyer at the bar of Nantes and member of the SAF.

233 investigation files awaiting judgment for years

Among the major dysfunctions of the Nantes judicial court: 233 complex investigation files (sexual assault, violence, multiple thefts) awaiting judgment for years while the investigation is over. A growing number “since it was 120 in March 2020”, specifies the leaflet. Some cases even risk being time-barred.

And it’s not just numbers. “In these files, there is a woman who denounced an act of rape in 2015 and who is still waiting for her case to be judged”, says Aurélie Rolland. We are in 2021. Emmanuel Macron has made gender equality and the fight against gender-based and sexual violence a “great cause of the quinquennium”.

Children also suffer from these shortcomings: “Certain acts of habitual violence against minors by their parents have been awaiting trial since 2012.”

15 months of waiting before seeing a family court judge

Another telling example, confides to us the president of Nantes, Christine Julienne:“You are separating from your spouse. One of the parents leaves with the children. You will take a year and a half to obtain an audience. That’s justice in Nantes. Not the exception set up for the Troadec trial”.

She recalls another case, a person who became blind as a result of an assault: “She has been waiting for the appointment of an expert to quantify her damage for three years, while the Assize Court has already condemned the author and she has lost her sight”.

Litigants who cannot finance the use of a lawyer must wait more than a year to obtain a decision from the Legal Aid Office, for lack of staff.

The demonstrators demand an evaluation of the positions to be completed, as soon as possible. They hope to be heard by the next president of the Nantes court, while the current one, Rémi Le Hors, “is due to leave his post at the beginning of July”.

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