EVERYTHING FOR AND BY THE PEOPLE
« For the Honour of France, for the sacred interests of Humanity »
(Napoleon the Great, 17th of Ventôse Year VIII – Saturday 8th of March 1800)
« [The Emperor] says that it is clear from the discussion that we feel the need to bring justice closer to litigants. That France is the country where district courts are the least numerous. To put distance between justice and the people is to assault property. It would be better to give the people mediocre judges than to not give them enough ».
To the Council of State, session of the 27th of February 1810.
« [The Emperor says that] the guarantee of civil liberty is essentially in the tribunals ; that opulence gives access to administration, but that the tribunals are open to everyone. [He says] that a petitioner begins by flattering the authorities ; he asks for justice as one solicits a favour. The pleader speaks with the firmness of a man who exercises his rights and who lays claim to justice as a debt ».
Minutes of the Council of State, session of the 9th of July 1811.
- On the occasion of the 213th anniversary of the promulgation of the Civil Code of the French, or Code Napoléon,
- In response to attacks on the fundamental principles of justice, of social progress, of democracy and of harmony in England and Wales,
- In conformity with our principles and values, we demand :
In the short term –
1. Re-opening of tribunals in order to bring Justice closer to the People.
2. Reversal of unjust restrictions to legal aid.
3. Annulment of legislation that allows privatisation of public services and institutions.
4. Forward planning in the 3 months before exiting the prison to prevent delays in vital benefits, etc.
5. Private and public jails to be subject to the same laws.
6. Greater emphasis on victims and providing protection, aid and assistance.
7. Regarding sex offenders, or anyone sentenced for violent crime, appealing should not interfere with treatment or compensation to the victims or their families.
8. Individualised monitoring of prisoners by the penitential and probation authorities to avoid turning the carceral system into a « sausage machine », in order to better protect prisoners and the public.
In the longer term –
1. Creation, and nationalisation, of institutions, i.e. secure residences – reinsertion centres, to bridge the gap after prison.
2. Systematic checks to ensure access to tribunals and other judicial institutions for the disabled and those with limited mobility.
3. Recruiting of sufficient personnel to remedy the current delays in treating cases, the consequence of the gap between the needs of litigants and the current means of the judicial system.
4. Recruiting of sufficient personnel to remedy the disastrous consequences of insufficient staff in the penitential and probational system.
In order to associate litigants, the governed and taxpayers more closely with the spending in their municipality and their county, we demand a national referendum on the raising of means, monetary and in personnel, of justice, that we have proposed. If approved, by virtue of a second question submitted to the people by the same occasion, any magistrate or elected representative sentenced in a criminal case would be subjected to a supplementary fine equivalent to 200% of that habitually required by the law, and which would be paid to the ministry of Justice. This disposition would equally be inscribed in law. In conformity with our annual call of the 15th and 16th of September for the anniversary of the Accounts Court (the French Cour des Comptes), we equally ask that the use of public money be more strictly controlled, and that an appropriate share of the money saved by the suppression of unnecessary spending be dedicated to justice.
What are the principles established by the Emperor, and which his successors have the duty to enforce, in the field of Justice ?
« M. le comte Treilhard, by order of His Majesty, and in the name of the section for Legislation, presents a new draft of the proposition, in the following terms –
« Napoleon, etc.
When we re-established the law schools by the law of the 22nd of Ventôse Year XII*, we had particularly in mind to restore to the profession of lawyer its former luster ; we ordered, to this effect, the creation of a faculty of lawyers, a means that experience had shown to be one of the most apt to maintain the integrity, tact, disinterestedness, desire for conciliation, love of the truth and of justice, an enlightened zeal for the weak and the oppressed, essential foundations of their vocation […] ».
Session of the Council of State of the 31st of July 1810.
*13th of March 1804.