Emmanuel Macron on the offensive about the responsibility of magistrates

The Head of State received, Friday evening, September 24, the members of the Superior Council of the Judiciary (CSM) to collect the opinion he had requested on February 17 on the subject of the responsibility of magistrates and their protection. The institution, responsible for ensuring the independence of the judicial authority, formulates thirty proposals, some of them courageous, in particular to strengthen ethical concerns throughout the career of magistrates, improve the detection of disciplinary breaches and better in ensure the sanction.

A work hailed by Emmanuel Macron, who wanted a peaceful debate on this delicate subject. More than a symbol, the CSM proposes in particular to integrate the notions of independence, impartiality and attention to others in the oath taken by any magistrate before taking his first post. The lack of attention to the litigant is considered without the slightest ambiguity as a disciplinary fault.

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Nevertheless, the Head of State clearly wishes to go beyond these proposals, on the most sensitive point. He has, has learned The world from a good source, questioned during this meeting the members of the CSM, composed of magistrates and non-magistrates, on the possibility of broadening the definition of disciplinary breach by approaching the red line of a questioning of the judge’s decision, if he “Violates in a serious and willful manner” a basic rule. According to paragraph 2 of article 43 of the 1958 organic law on the statute of the judiciary, only the serious and deliberate violation of a procedural rule is sanctioned.

The plenary assembly of the CSM devotes, in its opinion, important developments to rule out any rewriting of this paragraph, in which it sees a risk of undermining the sacrosanct independence of the judicial act, guaranteed by the Constitution. The act of judging can only be contested by means of appeal (appeal, cassation). If the questions of the Head of State relate to the case of a magistrate who, repeatedly, would take decisions contrary to the law, others see the risk of pressure which would prohibit, for example, any development of jurisprudence.

Prevention of conflicts of interest

For its part, the CSM proposes to develop the prevention of disciplinary misconduct by strengthening the culture of professional evaluation while some appear to be purely formal. A specific section devoted to ethics would be included in the periodic evaluation grid of magistrates by their superiors. And, cultural revolution in perspective, the institution chaired by Chantal Arens and François Molins, first president of the Court of Cassation and Attorney General, is willing to put an end to the lack of evaluation of senior magistrates. This would involve setting up so-called “360-degree” evaluations, with a questionnaire addressed to hierarchical superiors (if there are any), colleagues, subordinates and external partners.

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