Can a Minister of Justice indicted by the Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR) for “illegal taking of interests” remain in government? All theoretical, the question could be posed in a concrete and rapid way about Eric Dupond-Moretti.
The judicial information opened on January 13 by the investigating committee of the CJR against him is simple. No complicated evidence to seek or witnesses to hear to verify whether the fact for the Minister to order the General Inspectorate of Justice to conduct a disciplinary investigation against three magistrates of the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office ( PNF), and another against a former investigating judge in Monaco, whether or not there is a conflict of interest. The question is legal. The decision to indict, or not, Mr. Dupond-Moretti could, therefore, be made in the coming weeks.
According to some close to the executive, the “Balladur jurisprudence”, according to which a minister under examination resigns, would not apply. Nothing to do, they say, with a François Bayrou forced to leave the Ministry of Justice, in 2017, for a case concerning the financing of the MoDem. The investigation relates here to a ministerial act.
“Methods of barbouzes”
One thing is certain, the minister defended himself very badly. His attitude may have even helped to give importance to the case. Let’s go back to the film.
When he became Keeper of the Seals on July 6, Mr. Dupond-Moretti announced that he had withdrawn the complaint lodged in June when he had denounced the “Methods of barbouzes” of the PNF. His nonsense, like those of other lawyers, had been peeled by the police as part of an investigation, not communicated to the judge and remained dormant for six years, opened to search for a mole in a judicial investigation concerning Nicolas Sarkozy.
To allay fears of a witch hunt, the Minister undertakes to make public the inspection report on the operation of the PNF ordered before his arrival. Which he did on September 15, 2020. But, three days later, he ordered the inspection to conduct a disciplinary investigation on three PNF magistrates.
It is this decision that the magistrates’ unions unanimously denounced as relating to a conflict of interest. Moreover, a decree taken a month later by the Prime Minister will prohibit Mr. Dupond-Moretti from knowing “Acts of any kind (…) relating to the questioning of the conduct of a magistrate in connection with cases involving parties for whom he was the lawyer or in which he was involved “, just as it is now prohibited to escalate information to him on procedures concerning his former clients. A very late precaution.
A somewhat short demonstration
If Mr. Dupond-Moretti had admitted an error, while claiming that his predecessors would have undoubtedly made the same decision, which is likely, the incident might have been closed. Instead, he despised his contemptors, wanting to see it only as a war of backsliding magistrates refusing to have a lawyer as a minister. In sole defense, he repeated that his June complaint being withdrawn, he is no longer a party to the case and therefore not in a situation of conflict of interest. A somewhat short demonstration in front of magistrates who, too, have more and more obligations in terms of declaration of interests and ethics. They therefore seized the CJR to demonstrate the opposite.
In anticipation of the days to come, Mr. Dupond-Moretti has enlisted the services of Guillaume Didier, partner of the communications firm Vae-Solis, ex-magistrate and ex-spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice, as has revealed The Opinion. On the lawyer side, he has taken sizes with Olivier Cousi, the President of the Bar of Paris, and Christophe Ingrain, a former magistrate who worked for Nicolas Sarkozy’s office at the Elysee Palace before joining Darrois Villey.