François Saint-Pierre

Counsel for the Defence Publication date : September 10, 2009

The reform of France's judicial system has been a major subject of discussion since the 1990s. Should the role of the juge d'instruction (magistrate) be maintained or, on the contrary, eliminated and his powers handed over to the public prosecutor? If this were to happen, what would guarantee the independence of an investigation? What guarantees and rights should the defence counsel possess? What should be his or her task during a criminal trial? Would an accusatory procedure be preferable?

Since the beginning of the nineteenth century, lawyers have largely been regarded as litigants. Yet lawyers are also counsels. It is their advice that gives guidance and support to clients facing difficult, complex legal procedures. Lawyers fulfil these tasks conscientiously and zealously, within the narrow limits set by strict laws, deontological rules and traditional professional practices, which are both precise and constraining.

The author gives us a keen analysis of lawyers' traditional tasks as well as of the new roles they will have to assume within the framework of a judicial system in the process of gradual overhaul and modernisation.This is a detailed demonstration of the part lawyers play in the judiciary balance of power.François Saint-Pierre is a lawyer and a recognised specialist in penal procedure. He was the defence lawyer in several recent trials that received much media attention in France.