The Federation Press

Anatomy of a French Murder Case


The book provides a first hand account of the processing of a murder case through the French criminal justice system from the initial police investigation through to the compilation of the dossier, the hearing and the appeal, and the press coverage of the case. The study provides an effective comparison between ‘adversarial’ and ‘inquisitorial’ processes and will be valuable for anyone with an interest in comparative law, criminal process and legal systems.

Table of Contents


The facts of the case

The investigation
By the gendarmerie/ By the investigating judge (juge d’instruction)

The dossier

The committal for hearing

The hearing

The jury panel/ Selection of the jury, call-over of witnesses, and reading of the committal judgment/ Interrogation of the accused and the witnesses/ The addresses/ The judgment/ The civil claims / The record of the hearing

The relation between the dossier (as the record of the investigation) and the hearing
Statements/evidence by lay people/ Records/evidence by the gendarmerie and the police/ Reports/evidence by the experts

Perspectives on the case from the lawyers involved
The investigating judge/ The prosecutor/ The lawyer for the accused/ The lawyer for the civil parties

The accused’s perspective on the case
The investigation by the gendarmerie/ The investigation by the investigating judge/ The role of the accused’s lawyers in the investigation/ The investigation overall/ The President of the cour d’assises/ The prosecutor/ The lawyer for the civil parties/ The accused’s lawyer at the hearing / The sentence/ The civil parties/ Psychiatric and psychologic expertise

The treatment of the hearing by the press

Appeal to the cour de cassation

Comments on the case from a common law perspective
The relative importance of the investigation/ The centrality of the dossier/ Control of the investigation by legal professionals/ The garde à vue/ Re-enactment and confrontation/ Official experts/ Civil parties/ The position of the accused/ The personnalité of the accused / The absence of a requirement to plead



Of interest...