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A year after a resounding platform, the magistrates still cry out their suffering at work

“We are finally faced with an untenable dilemma: to judge quickly but badly, or to judge well but within unacceptable delays”, alerted nine young judges and prosecutors in this appeal co-written during “Zoom meetings” after the suicide of their colleague Charlotte.

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A year after a resounding platform, the magistrates still cry out their suffering at work

“We are finally faced with an untenable dilemma: to judge quickly but badly, or to judge well but within unacceptable delays”, alerted nine young judges and prosecutors in this appeal co-written during “Zoom meetings” after the suicide of their colleague Charlotte. , 29, magistrate at the Douai Court of Appeal.

When it appeared in Le Monde on November 23, 2021, this "cry from the heart" had more than 3,000 signatories, then almost double in a few weeks, i.e. two-thirds of the magistrates.

This success, as dazzling as it is unprecedented within a profession reluctant to speak aloud, "stunned", in the first place, the co-authors of the forum.

"We were happy in quotation marks and at the same time, it's quite violent to realize that this ethical suffering that we denounced in our profession was widely shared by our colleagues", declares to AFP one of the editors, Bérangère Théry, substitute at Tours.

The column describes these civil hearings where the judges have "only seven minutes" to listen to over-indebted people, these overloaded criminal hearings where you have to "choose between judging at midnight" or sending the case back to a year later, a "loss of meaning" and even a "shame" of this "mistreating justice" for the citizens and those who render it.

- "Free speech" -

"It was not to say it's too hard work but to affirm we no longer have the possibility of doing it in acceptable conditions and therefore we do bad work and that makes us suffer", recalls Anne Michaut, magistrate today on availability.

Suffering at work is no longer "a taboo", she is satisfied.

"Because there was this text, some colleagues dared to say I'm at the end of it. This created a liberation of speech", adds Clara Lanoës, judge in Arras.

On social networks, a multitude of stories expressing the "desperation" of magistrates and clerks then flock under the keyword "Sick Justice". In a sort of "sacred union", the judicial hierarchy shares the observation of "bloodless justice".

A state of decay validated a few months later in the report of the States General of Justice, launched a month before the platform.

"It's a fundamental movement that has marked", believes Bérangère Théry.

"Unfortunately, has my daily life changed? No", says the one who, a few days earlier, finished her hearing at 10:30 p.m., who has to do with faulty computer software and continues to work evenings and weekends. to move forward on their cases.

- "Barrel of the Danaides" -

"It's complicated to actually say no, I'm not going to stay later, I'm not answering my mail, I'm going to prepare my hearings less in detail", justifies Bérangère Théry.

“We continue to work in a degraded way. It is constantly a kind of balance, saying to each other to sometimes have more acceptable deadlines I motivate less, but it is our mission to justify in law and, in fact, each decision that 'we take,' abounds Clara Lanoes.

"As long as we don't have more staff, we won't get there," she says.

The announced recruitment of magistrates, 1,500 in five years, must take into account the training time of more than two years and remain "largely insufficient" for the 18 organizations which call for a day of mobilization on Tuesday of all professionals against a "justice at the discount".

On the initiative of the Keeper of the Seals Eric Dupond-Moretti, the heads of jurisdictions evaluated at “4,991” the posts to be created for justice to work, recalls Kim Reuflet, president of the Syndicate of the magistrature.

"While waiting for these reinforcements in a few years, we must give us better working conditions, prioritize litigation, put an end to late hearings and that the heads of jurisdictions also set limits so that we stop emptying the barrel. Danaides to the detriment of our health", insists Cécile Mamelin, vice-president of the Union of magistrates.

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