French National Judicial Medical Experts society (CNEMJ) annual meeting

Report by Mr. R. Ménès

The French National Judicial Medical Experts society held his annual meeting on 2019 October 12, in the Court of Appeal of Orleans, under the presidency of Mrs F. Peyberne (first president of the Court of Appeal) and Mr Deharveng (General Attorney to the Court). The subject of this meeting was authority and expertises. To begin the meeting, three presidents of societies of experts tried to shape “What Authority is based on”: Credibility, Coherence, Quickness, and Reliability for the judge and the parties.

Mr Allorant, Dean of the Judicial Academy, then drew up the history of judicial and forensic medicine and the important part played by the doctors, first to detect malingerers’ simulations of physical or mental disease and to attest that those persons were fit for penal servitude or reformatory prisons.

Led as a dialogue between Mr Latapie, Former President of Criminal Courts, and Dr De Brier –Forensic Doctor, the authority of an expert giving evidence to the Court was meticulously dissected. Knowledge of his report, tone of speech, self –control and diplomacy under the rolling fire of questions asked  by the Judges and the barristers  to expose the weaknesses of the report, opening the way to any doubt which would jeopardize the credibility of the work of the experts.

There is no quality without testing and control

Referring to the report of the Cassation Court Mrs Menotti (member of the Criminal chamber of the Cassation Court) explained the penalties incurring to the experts, the first one being not to be re- registered as an Expert at the end of the first probative period of three years, or regular evaluations every five years. She noticed: Non- answering to the letters of the Judge; negligence in administrative documents, lack of permanent training in his professional capacity as well as on judicial matters, regularly overpassing the time allowed for the expertise, increasing the price of the expertise or calling on numerous sapitors to do the job.
Scarcely, non – re-registration is required when the expert was sentenced for his way of life: Alcohols or drugs abuses, frequently overpassing the speed limits when driving, sharing in demonstrations, insulting behaviour and the use of violence, professional exercise outside the rules of its profession.
The procedure was explained step by step, putting in light that at any step the candidate who is not reported on, the board may be audited by a Judge, may present his argumentation and has many means of recourse.

The following duo, with Pr Gasser, an eminent psychiatrist in Switzerland, and President Frassati (Judge) clearly demonstrate the difficulties of the psychiatric expertise. On the one hand it is usually easy to asses a proved psychiatric illness. On the other hand, it is very hard to demonstrate “a temporary consciousness impairing” witch has led to punishable or criminal facts, with, as a consequence, to answer the question of the responsibility or non-responsibility of the patient. In Switzerland, to reduce the risks of uncertainty and subjective factors TWO experts are nominated, which MUST Work together. This last point opened a Discussion about the increase of the time and cost of the expertise. In addition, the speakers and participants acknowledged the random nature of the “predictive” expertise of an individual’s dangerousness and the risk of recidivism after his release.

Expand analysis about lectures given by Mrs Dalle (Department of Justice – Civilian Law affairs) and Mrs Rist – Medical Doctor and Political Deputy in the National Assembly for the department of Loiret,) underlining the necessity of a high quality of expertise for the Justice and to get the decisions of Justice acceptable by a society that is more and more critical about everything dealing with any kind of authority.

Finally, Mr E.Claes, from the EEEI brought a new lightening on expertise across the different countries of the European Union, and on the works led for many years by the EEEI, in close relationships with the CEPEJ and European Commission to draw up common guidelines acceptable by each country, for an European Standard of Expertise, whatever the  Judicial system may be, for the making out of an European Judicial Experts lectionary, this title being Granted by national institutions in charge of the registration and the follow up of experts. By this way, the high-quality level, both on professional as on judicial knowledge will be maintained.

As a conclusion Dr Ménès remained that authority cannot be decreed, it has to be earned.
Authority is based on Know-How, but also on how to be, empathy, equity, independence, and educational skills, that make decisions of Justice acceptable for all people.

The videos of the Orleans conference “Authority and Expertise” are online on the play list of the company’s YOUTUBE channel.