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among his arbitrary powers is the right to go to the habitation or office of the accused (or elsewhere if necessary) and seize any papers, books or documents, or other evidence material to the charge against him and place them under seals and remove them. When an accused is brought before a Juge d’Instruction the latter becomes for all intents and purposes a committing magistrate. He proceeds from time to time with the examination of the accused and other witnesses whose evidence is reduced to writing; he has power in certain cases to admit to bail, and when his investigation is complete he either discharges the accused or sends him for trial before the tribunal having cognizance of the offence. One of the most singular yet effective features of the French Criminal Judicial System is what is known as the “ partie civile.” A claim for compensation caused by a felony, misdemeanour or simple police offence, can be heard and determined at the same time by the same tribunal and by the same procedure as the criminal charge. The person injured constitutes himself what is known as “partie civile,” and has the right of being heard and represented by counsel, and awarded damages without the delay and expense of resorting to an independent separate action. The civil remedy, although connected with, is in no way dependent upon the criminal proceeding; the two can be prosecuted together but need not be, as this is optional with the person injured or partie civile. French criminal law is divided into:(A) Contraventions or police offences. (B) Délits or misdemeanours, (c) Crimes or felonies. We will consider these in their consecutive order. (A) Contraventions or police offences are punishable by imprisonment for not less than one day or more than five, and a fine of from one to fifteen francs, and the confiscation of the objects or material seized. (c) Délits or misdemeanours are punishable by imprisonment for not less than six days nor more than five years, and where specially authorized by law, the Court may deprive the offender from exercising civic, civil, or family rights; from voting or being eligible to election; from serving as a juror or other public function; from carrying arms; from participating in the family conseil and various other privileges; by a fine and, where a party has joined in the proceedings as a partie civile, by restitution or damages,
(c) The penalty for crimes or felonies is corporal and degrading punishment, or only degrading punishment. Corporal and degrading punishments are death; penal servitude for life or years; deportation; imprisonment with hard labour, and loss of civil rights and imprisonment. The death penalty (excepting military crimes) is carried out by decapitation, executions by means of the guillotine having officially existed since the decree of March 20th, 1792. All offenders triable by a jury must be sent before the assizes on an acte d’accusation or written charge, which is drawn up by the public prosecutor, and must contain the nature of the offence which forms the basis of the charge, and facts and any circumstances which may add to or reduce the penalty. The accused must be named and clearly identified. The acte d’accusation, or written charge, takes the place of an indictment in Anglo-Saxon criminal jurisprudence, and it only follows an ārret de renvoi or judgment sending the offender before a Court for trial, which order is pronounced by what is known as la Chambre des mise en accusation, or chamber of accusation. This chamber is composed of a section of the Cour d’Appel specially formed for this purpose, which convenes on the order of its president at the request of the public prosecutor whenever necessary to hear the report of that magistrate and pas upon his application; and in the absence of a request by the public prosecutor the chamber meets once a week. The chamber passes upon the case immediately after hearing the report of the public prosecutor; if this is impossible, then it must render its decision not later than within three days. The Judges composing the chamber ascertain whether there exists against the accused the proof of the indications of a fact designated as a crime by law, and if these proofs or indications are sufficiently serious to justify the pronouncing of an act of accusation. The clerk reads to the Judge in the presence of the public prosecutor all the documents in the case, after which they are left on the table, together with any memorandum the partie civile or the accused may have furnished; but neither the partie civile, the accused, nor witnesses are present. The public prosecutor having deposited his application in writing, and signed by him, on the table, he and the clerk withdraw. Then the Judges at once deliberate among themselves, and without communicating with anybody the Court, by one and the same judgment, passes on the various connected offences (délits conneres) which they find among the documents produced before them. And here we come to one of the most interesting, and at the same time to the stranger the most bewildering feature of the French Criminal Judicial System, as was so well brought out on the recent trial of the automobile bandits.
Offences are connected either when they have been committed at the same time by several persons together, or when they have been committed by different persons or at different times and places, but pursuant to an understanding formed beforehand among them, either when those guilty have committed one in order to procure the means with which to commit the other, to facilitate it, to carry out its execution, or to assure its being unpunished. A striking illustration of this, as I have already mentioned, was the trial of the automobile bandits. In March last twenty accused were arraigned before the Cour d’Assises and a jury, several of whom were accused of murders punishable with death, but not of the same person or at the same place; some of whom were accused of crimes punishable by imprisonment for life; some for twenty years, and some for offences only punishable by imprisonment for ten years. Yet all the long list of offences were so connected and so inextricably woven together that they formed one continued narration of crime; and it is a credit to any system of criminal procedure that enables the final hearing and disposal of such a series of crimes at one and the same time. Every one of the prisoners had a fair and impartial trial, and each offence was carefully and separately decided, the evidence relating to the participation of each prisoner being distinctly limited to his case; and while to a stranger this intermixing of different and separate crimes—calling for various degrees of punishment—may appear to be an unfair and unequal measure of justice, it is not so. Four of the accused were found guilty of murder and condemned to death, while four were acquitted, the others being sentenced to various terms of imprisonment ranging from deportation for life to imprisonment for one year, and in no single instance was one of the accused deprived of any right to which a person accused of a crime under Anglo-Saxon methods of criminal procedure is entitled to.
A Cour d’Assises is held in each department to judge those whom the Chambre des mise en accusation has sent there. The Cour d’Assises is presided over by a councillor of the Cour d’Appel appointed for this purpose, who is president, and by two other Judges taken either from among the councillors of the Court d’Appel, or from the presidents or councillors of the Tribunal de Première Instance of the place where the assize is held. These Courts are held in the principal town of the department every three months, and oftener if necessary. The president is charged to hear the accused at the time of his arrival in the Court House, to summon the jurors and to draw them by lot. In addition, he is charged to personally direct the jury in the exercise of their functions, to expose to them the affair they are to judge, reminding them of their duty, and to preside at all hearings and determine the order in which those entitled to speak shall be heard. The president is also invested with discretionary power in virtue of which he is enabled to do whatever he thinks necessary in order to discover the truth, the law charging him on his honour and conscience to employ all his efforts in favour of its manifestation. He is also empowered during the course of the trial to cause to be produced and hear any witness or other evidence which may be revealed on hearing the accused or the witnesses, and which may appear to him to shed any light on the facts in dispute. If the prisoner has not chosen a lawyer, the Court appoints one to defend him. He appears unmanacled and only accompanied by guards to see he does not escape. The president asks his name, Christian name, age, profession, residence, and the place of his birth, and then he cautions his lawyer that he must not say anything against his conscience or in disrespect of the laws, and that he must express himself with decency and moderation. The president rising and uncovered then addresses the jury thus: “You swear and promise before God and man to examine with the most scrupulous attention the charge that has been brought against X. ; not to betray either the interests of the accused or those of society which accuses; not to communicate with anyone until after your verdict; hearken not to hate, neither to fear or affection; decide according to the charge and the means of defence, according to your conscience and your personal conviction, with that impartiality and firmness which becomes an upright and free man.” Immediately afterwards he notifies the accused to be attentive to what he hears, and directs the clerk to read the order of the Chambre des mise en accusation sending the case to the Cour d’Assises as well as the indictment (acte d'accusation). After the public prosecutor has explained the charge, the list of witnesses is read by the clerk and the witnesses are required
to retire into an adjoining room, precautions being taken if