Saint Brieuc. She refuses to wear the mask: a lawyer expelled from the court

Wind of slingshot at the court of Saint-Brieuc, where a lawyer without a mask had to leave a hearing when the law no longer requires wearing it. © illustration

Thursday, March 17, thunderbolt at correctional court in Saint-Brieuc. A well-known and recognized lawyer registered with the city bar was denied the right to practice her profession and defend her client becauseshe refused to wear a mask during a hearing.

The judge suspended the procedure to verify the text on which the lawyer who wished to assert his right relied. will followban on letting anyone plead without a maskthe judge will request the intervention of the President of the Bar to urgently appoint another court-appointed lawyer.

Fronde of lawyers?

A sling could see the light of day, teeth gnash and black dresses rise up. In question, decree 2022-352 of March 12, 2022 modifying decree 2021-699 of 1is June 2021 prescribing the general measures necessary for managing the end of the health crisis; in other words, the abolition of wearing a mask indoors in all structures open to the public, with the exception of public transport and health establishments.

It seems that a divergence is looming on the horizon as to how to interpret the decree on the lifting of the mask obligation.

As in a hospital, we are not in a vacuum, there is passage. The government lifts the wearing of the mask, but leaves the freedom to the employer to maintain the obligation. That’s what we’re doing, because we’ve seen an upsurge in cases.

Laurent Sabatier, president of the judicial tribunal.

A matter of interpretation

In his eyes, a policy of prudence is essential. “This will last until a decision to the contrary, which will be based on an implementing decree or a circular, which we do not yet have. In the meantime, masks remain available at the entrance to judicial sites for people who do not have them.

There is obviously a problem of interpretation here. The sanctioned lawyer considers that there is no no relationship of subordination between a judicial tribunal and litigants, lawyers or any person outside the judicial precinct.

Consequently, a question arises: on what basis can the court and the judicial sites set themselves up as employers if not towards their own employees?

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More obligation in public services

In Seine-et-Marne, where the city of Meaux is home to one of the few courts in France to maintain the wearing of a mask compulsory, Mand Nathalie Baudin-Vervaeckepresident of the bar association, declared: “If some people want to wear the mask, they are free to do so. But the law must apply, the law must prevail. And the law says that it is no longer mandatory in public services”.

The same day, one of his colleagues removed his mask during his pleading without any hearing incident being declared.

An attack on freedom?

Obviously, the decision of the court of Saint-Brieuc is a preventive protective measure, no one disputes this, and the initiative is to be welcomed as it should be. However, the notion of obligation advocated within the judicial precincts, which raises a wave of discontent is perceived as an attack on freedom, and in total contradiction with government decisions.

The prefecture, contacted on this subject, considers that it does not have to take sides, considering that to date no problem had been reported.

Guy Lemaur

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