“Mr. Prime Minister, beware of the judges!” I quote, from memory, this advice given by François Mitterrand, President of the Republic, to Edouard Balladur, Prime Minister of the government of cohabitation in 1993. This is to say that the tumultuous relations between the politician and the judge do not date from today …
A few decades ago, it was fashionable in the political sphere to say that one does not comment on a court decision. However, this is what is asked of law students every day. It would seem that this is less true now, and this should undoubtedly be seen as the consequence of an evolution in political-justice relations. And, in fact, many political figures did not hesitate to criticize the severity of the decision, as well as to support Nicolas Sarkozy on the evening of his conviction by the Paris Criminal Court.
Obviously, this judgment has been appealed and, as long as a final decision has not been taken, the former head of state must be considered innocent. But the magistrates of first instance knew very well that their judgment was going to strike the opinion, and not simply by its … 260 pages! “Depending on whether you are powerful or miserable, court judgments will make you white or black”, said La Fontaine in “Les Animaux Sick de la Peste”. In our time, La Fontaine should undoubtedly reverse his formula, because we too often feel that justice is weak towards ordinary delinquents who spoil the lives of our compatriots in certain neighborhoods, and of great ferocity towards public men. which are not going to disturb public peace, nor to undermine public order.
That the women and the politicians have, if they deserve it, to be accountable to justice, this is only very normal. But they must be treated on an equal footing with any litigant. Without special favor, with the same serenity, with equal severity.
No doubt Nicolas Sarkozy should have taken the advice of François Mitterrand to Edouard Balladur at face value, and avoided calling his lawyer and friend Thierry Herzog. But finally, how can we admit that we can build a court decision based on such questionable procedures (the prohibited telephone tapping of a lawyer and his client) that Judge van Ruymbeke himself was able to say that ‘ he would never have used it?
All means should not be allowed to justice to achieve its ends. Politics should certainly not be above the law. The judges neither.