The Council of State suspended, on Friday February 12, the possibility of imposing videoconferencing without the agreement of the parties before the criminal courts in the context of the health crisis, considering that the measure carried a “Serious and manifest violation of the rights of the defense”. On November 27, 2020, the authority had already suspended the possibility of using videoconferencing for assize trials.
The highest administrative court had been seized by the Syndicat des Avocats de France and the Syndicat de la magistrature (listed on the left), the Association of Lawyers for the Defense of the Rights of Detainees and the National Council of Bars, so that the decision also applies to all other criminal jurisdictions, trials, but also presentations before the public prosecutor or the public prosecutor.
A much contested order
The government ordinance issued on November 18 authorized, during the state of health emergency, the “To a means of audiovisual telecommunication before all criminal courts”, including assize courts, from pleadings and requisitions, but not during debates. The government had justified a particularly controversial measure by explaining that justice had to “Turns” despite the Covid-19 epidemic.
Professional organizations of lawyers and magistrates’ unions were up against this text. Indignant, lawyers of the trial of the attacks of January 2015 had denounced a cut order ” tailored “ to unblock this historic hearing, suspended for a month because of the persistent indisposition of its main accused.
On January 15, the Constitutional Council had censured previous similar provisions, decided in March by the government during the first state of health emergency.