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dice against the accused. The accused himself seems, from ill health and the unexpected circumstances he was placed in, to have become unnerved, and in his private interrogation evidently lost his self-possession. With this theory the Juge d'Instruction had gone to the Procureur-General. The intimate connexion which exists between all the branches of the Ministère Public, from the lowest official to the highest, has fitly gained for it the name of a "hierarchy." The views of the commissionnaire and his subordinate officers of police are laid before the Procureur du Roi; he submits them, as the case requires, either to the tribunal of simple police, the correctional tribunals, or the Juge d'Instruction. By the time the matter has reached the Procureur-General a case has been constructed. This case is elaborately reduced by the Procureur-General into the form of an acte d'accusation. At this point the English and French practice diverges widely. With us the statement to the jury of the acts charged against an accused is rigidly confined to the offence itself, leaving the case to be opened by the counsel for the prosecution. The French law expressly directs that the acte d'accusation shall state "First, the nature of the offence which forms the basis of accusation. Second, the facts and all the circumstances which can aggravate or diminish the punishment."* This direction interpreted in our own courts would mean such a bare statement of the facts and circumstances tending to support a conviction as were to be put in evidence by the prosecution in addition to the formal statement of the offence charged. This is, indeed, the plain intention of the article. But, unfortunately, the Ministère Public have been allowed to construe it in a sense quite foreign to its real intention. They have converted it into an instrument for embodying the theory of the prosecution. "It not only recapitulates all the grounds from which the Ministère Public infers the guilt of the accused, but also frequently states and refutes by anticipation the arguments for the defence."† These grounds are not confined *Code d'Instruction Criminelle, Art. 241.
to a statement of facts which can be put in evidence, nor even to facts which bear upon the criminal issue. Being founded on an assumption of guilt, that assumption is enforced by every artifice of rhetoric, and very often, as we shall see, by strong invective. Circumstances which cannot be proved, assertions founded on a simple train of reasoning are put forward with all the confidence of witnesses deposing to actual facts within their own personal knowledge.
That the power thus exercised is in excess of that legally conceded to them is well understood in France. We find Mons. Jules Favre protesting against its flagrant use at the Aix trial, and objecting to a statement in the acte d'accusation, "which was not a statement," because it "affirmed things that were still in doubt." The objection is most significant. But the most curious feature in this part of the French system is the tone in which the acte d'accusation is drawn up. The chief object of the composer seems to be to make it melodramatic in its form and expression. The narrative is taken back as far as possible, so that the past history of the accused may be brought out effectively. Every stage in his career is separated by a moral disquisition, often on the heinous nature of some past offence, or the general turpitude of the accused. For instance, at the recent trial of Greco and his four fellow-conspirators at Paris, the acte d'accusation begins, in the most approved style of the late Mr. G. P. R. James, thus: "On the 24th December, 1863, four strangers entered France at the same time by the Swiss Frontier." The four strangers are M. M. Greco and his three friends. The instrument gives the past history of these four men in full detail, explains how they came together, introduces and gives a long account of Mazzini, whom it denounces as the "head of the plot," and describes the manner in which he concerted and directed not only this but the Tibaldi conspiracy of 1857. The acte d'accusation, however, in the case of Armand, offers a still more striking instance of the absurdity and impropriety of such statements. The popular feeling against the accused
had grown so strong, that his counsel applied on that ground to the Court of Cassation for an order that the trial should take place at Aix, which is in the adjoining department of the Bouches du Rhone. After some delay, the order was made. The prisoner had succeeded in escaping from an atmosphere of prejudice, which had even begun to mount from the rabble to the better classes. But he had not escaped from the Juge d'Instruction and the Procureur-General. The theory they
had constructed was this: that the accused had committed the assault under the impulse of a fit of sudden passion. This theory the Procureur-General proceeded to unfold and explain in a manner which, to those accustomed to the dignified and impartial course of English criminal inquiries, sounds incomprehensible. It is difficult to realise the scene which occurred at Aix on the morning of the 14th of March, when the acte d'accusation was read. We try to picture to ourselves a learned counsel for the prosecution opening his statement to an English jury in the following terms:-"The accused, whom you see before you, gentlemen of the jury, is rich: he is very rich. Of all that people have been able to say of him that is perhaps the only fact that is true. But if he is very rich, he is very haughty; and more than that, very brutal, very violent, and very hard-hearted to his inferiors. I do not mean to say that he may not have gained some friends. A man worth a million-and the accused must have, at least, a million [francs]—as he has no children, always has friends. But there is one thing undeniable which will be proved on the trial, namely, his harshness towards his inferiors. Indeed, there is something incredible in the violence of his temper. At the slightest word and for the most frivolous cause, Armand gets excited either against his servants or his workmen; he makes use of the grossest invectives, and many times passes from words to blows. I have to observe," continues the prosecutor," that whenever he assaults anyone, he begins always at the head. It is at the head he always aims whenever he has a weapon in his hand. In this fashion he has wounded
many persons, and he would have wounded more if some, who knew his violence and who dreaded it, did not defend themselves and threaten to kill him if he approached them." Apart from the ludicrous tone of melodramatic exaggeration, such a style of prosecution would never be tolerated for a day in this country. But let us suppose for a moment that officers for Crown prosecutions were created with full latitude as to opening statement, it is equally impossible to conceive a prosecutor opening after the fashion above quoted. How is it then that amongst our neighbours the most solemn proceedings of their highest tribunal are disfigured by this foolish and indecent exhibition? If the truth be told, we fear the French people themselves are in no slight degree accountable for it. They are fond of theories, fond of excitement, and slaves to effect. They are ready to sacrifice everything to sensation. Had the English people received a written law, like that which regulates the drawing up of the acte d'accusation, they would have never ceased to watch jealously any attempt to enlarge its scope; they would have bound it down by rules of practice, so that it should remain as it was intended to be-a simple statement of the charge and the evidence. Not so the French. The highly flavoured address of the public prosecutor-its dramatic touches-its thrilling episodes its ingenious explanations, are delightful to the Frenchman. Here, as in so many other cases, he has sacrificed to vanity, or present gratification, privileges which go to form the happiness and glory of a free people.
From such men as MM. Jules Favre and Lachaud, who defended the accused, a protest against the tone of the acte d'accusation came as a matter of course. They waited, however, until the case for the prosecution was exposed in the following terms. "Now, suppose such a man heard that his servant wanted to leave him, saying that his house was a hovel; to any other man it would be a trifle, but to him, puffed up with conceit as he is, it would be a deep offence, and you will easily understand that he said, when speaking to
his imprudent servant, I will pay you out for this.' But how has he paid him? Why by means of the correction which is familiar to him (and he knows no other), by striking him on the head. On the 7th of July last, between half-past eight and nine o'clock, Armand goes down to his cellar, where he knows his servant went to fetch wood "-Here Mons. Favre interposed with the objection we have already quoted. To his protest the President replied, "You do not know whether witnesses may not come to depose to what the ProcureurGeneral has advanced." The Procureur-General then said, "I state I cannot prove." Whereupon Mons. Favre made another strong and spirited protest against an acte d'accusation in which it is stated as a fact, "that a man is rich, haughty, violent, brutal, and that he goes down to his cellar to murder his servant, when in point of fact this is the very gist of the charge." He was told by the President that he had no right to criticise the manner in which the ProcureurGeneral made his statements. That official, therefore, went on with the acte d'accusation, which was throughout of a piece with the introduction.
At this point we are again brought into contact with another strange feature in the French procedure :—the identification of the judge with the prosecution. This grave defect has been attributed to that principle of inquiry which lies at the root of French criminal jurisprudence. It has, in fact, only sprung from the same abuse of that principle which has distorted the system in every other direction, and has made conviction, not impartial examination, the chief end every official has in view. The efficiency, and, consequently, the promotion of a judge is in this way tested by the proportion of convictions to acquittals which have been obtained before him.
The injustice and scandal thus caused appear prominently in the trial of Armand. The presiding judge adopted the theory of the prosecution, and urged the guilt of the accused upon the jury with such indecency and violence as absolutely