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"The Legal Theater" by Jacques Krynen

How has the legal system been constituted since Antiquity? This history of law in France follows three guides: the scholar, the law and the judge.

• The Legal Theater. A history of the construction of law, by Jacques Krynen, Gallimard, 378 p., 25 €

This is not a station novel. You will not learn much about "Little judges", angry lawyers or miscarriages of justice. You will laugh less than "Flagrant delusions" Pierre Desproges once on the radio. But Jacques Krynen, a high figure in the history of law at Toulouse-Capitole University, can roll up his toga, he loves drama and public morality. And, suddenly, his book looks like a western.

It is a tricolor production lined with ermine, where we follow "The scholar, the law and the judge" at a gallop in the arid plains of western law. So let's take advantage of this rare opportunity: a legible lawyer, not stunned and quick draw! By what? Nothing less, at the end of the French history, than our pruritus today: " Law everywhere, the right for all, the right to everything. "

Three protagonists

First on stage: the learned doctor, the square-cap professor who over the centuries has chewed and rehearsed the Roman law of jurisconsults, compiled the Justinian code of Byzantium, confronted the canon law of Christendom and the princes' requirements to offer us a Corpus iuris civilis, a true science of law.

Second actor: the legislative power which, on the Greek and Roman model, with medieval, modern and contemporary overlaps put the law " at the heart of Western thinking and public action ".

Third protagonist: the judge, at work daily, who from century to century searched the law in its least interstices and made precedence with the blows of expectations and decisions; who today draws on superabundant and omnipresent legislation; who does not always find the best way in the maquis of national law full of European and international law; who does not always know if he has constitutional authority or power. But who is pronounced in conscience.

"The Institution of Freedom" by Muriel Fabre-Magnan

A public lighting that weakens

Jacques Krynen stages these three actors and proves that they have learned their roles well. But, he adds, they have been in chronic rivalry, they have often improvised and allowed themselves to be circumvented or dispossessed (see, for example, the "special sections" at the time of Vichy or the long life of military tribunals). They are nowadays in the spotlight of a weak public lighting.

Are the rulers, the elected officials, the citizens and even the judges, all watched by an excited public opinion, by social networks that electrify without enlightening, could they one day "fart the lead"? That does not prevent Jacques Krynen from concluding, with a slightly over-optimistic optimism would say "yellow vests": " The right ? This old remedy is all that is left to the citizen, it is his last resort. "

Jean-Pierre Rioux



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