Thierry Lévy

Justice without God Publication date : April 1, 2000

Summertime 1281, on the property of the Count of Clermont. The bailiff, Philippe de Beaumanoir, finds the body of a young butcher who has been murdered. His suspicions fall on a frightened teenage boy, who is immediately arrested, found guilty, tortured, dragged across town and then hanged.
So begins the new book by Thierry Lévy, one of the most renowned barristers working in France today.
Philippe de Beaumanoir was not a brute. He is generally regarded as the best Medieval jurist and a great legal practitioner. He lived and wrote at a time when European history was being stamped by the invention of the rules that would determine how legal trials should be conducted. Many of these rules are still in use today.
According to Lévy, the time has come to profoundly alter those rules. He writes: “I have been convinced of this for a long time, but, knowing how slow and irrational evolution in this area can be, I would not have voiced my views or attempted to share them if the comparison between today’s trials and those of seven centuries ago hadn’t proved so relevant in explaining a process that is understood neither by those who are subjected to it nor by those who carry it out.”
Torture was abolished from the French legal system in 1789; the death penalty was abolished in 1981. Yet the disappearance of these two practices did not lead to the disappearance of the methods that accompanied or even inspired them.
How did Beaumanoir deal with the multiple facets of his task as an administrator, an investigator and a judge? Which ideas served as his guiding force? Above all, how do we go about things today? Why? What should we think of this? These are some of the questions that the author addresses in Une Justice sans Dieu.

Thierry Lévy is a lawyer, practising in the Paris bar. With Jean-Denis Bredin, he co-authored Convaincre, Dialogue sur l’Éloquence.