The case went beyond the borders of the Old Port to turn into a controversy on the Parisian square. Last month, a drug trafficking trial in Marseille was canceled due to judicial delays. And for good reason: as the developer The Parisian, the hearing reserves fifteen years after the opening of the investigation. This Friday, less than a fortnight later, the Minister of Justice Eric Dupond-Moretti came to the bedside of the sick Marseille justice.
“Currently, we are obliged to judge very serious cases in two hours, deplores Nathalie Roche, examining magistrate and delegate of the Marseilles section of the magistrates’ union. We do a bit of assembly line work as we are asked to study each file. For example, the family court judge sees between 20 and 25 families come into his office every morning to decide on the custody of the children. He would have to receive about fifteen to do his job well. But that would mean rendering a decision six months later for the others. Take a look at our dilemma…”
Delays and understaffing
“In the emblematic file of the collapses of the rue d’Aubagne, the deputy mayor Julien Ruas had challenged his indictment, and it is entirely his right. But he waited one before he could set a hearing and make a decision! However, we only ask to be able to do our job properly,” adds Nathalie Roche.
These required delays will lead to a main cause: the lack of personnel. However, the number of cases to be dealt with is not negligible, reflecting the significant drug trafficking in Marseille, but also the complexity of the cases handled by the court, which has interregional jurisdiction in matters of serious crime, environmental damage, and has the largest social hub in France. The alert was even given publicly by the president of the court Olivier Leurent during his back-to-school press conference. “We should have 130 magistrates”, against 118 currently, he claimed at the beginning of January. “In fifteen years, there has not been a single job created on the civil level to deal with housing or over-indebtedness issues. »
“We were on the edge of the precipice”
During his whirlwind visit, Eric Dupond-Moretti announced that in 2023 the Marseille court will have 139 judges, four of whom will have a three-year objective and means contract, and the prosecution will make do with 56 magistrates ( against 46 currently), without specifying the part of long-term additional positions. He also announced 10 new clerks for 2022.
“Marseille had taken such a delay that we were on the edge of the precipice, regrets Olivier Leurent. We benefit from an essential catch-up, it is a considerable effort. “” The announcements of the Keeper of the Seals concern the criminal aspect, tempers Nathalie Roche. No judge for additional children, when we really have unaccompanied minors wandering the streets of Marseille. No judge for the application of additional sentences, while the Baumettes are renovated and once again become a huge detention center. »
“As soon as it rains, it leaks everywhere”
Magistrates also face another problem: their offices. The various chambers of the court are spread over two sites, and the magistrates feel cramped in these aging premises. “As soon as it rains, it leaks everywhere because we don’t have enough resources to replace all the window seals,” complains Nathalie Roche. And for the most complex cases, for lack of rooms, the stock was full last month with more than 220 files…”
During his visit, the Keeper of the Seals also announced the construction of a new judicial precinct of 40,000 m² by 2028. However, by the minister’s own admission, no land has been found for the time being and the project remains in the state of promise a few weeks before the presidential election. In the meantime, for lack of anything better, the court has recently moved into a military building, the former Muy barracks, in which a room has been specially built to accommodate large-scale trials. The first will open in this new place on February 28: that of dentist Lionel Guedj, who will face no less than 450 victims.