Penal Issues (2006->) décembre 2003

FRENCH COURT CLERKS : UNCERTAINTIES IN TURNING THE JOB INTO A PROFESSION

par Raymonde BOSSIS,

Raymonde BOSSIS, a post-graduate student working at the CESDIP, recently defended her dissertation in sociology on "Making court clerk a profession". She outlines her study here.

1. The Clerk’s Office : the word and what it designates

The French word "greffe", meaning Clerk’s Office, is believed to come from the Greek graphein, to write. If writing is referred to in designating the function, it is because justice was handed down orally for a long time. But from the 13th century on, this was found inadequate, especially with the changed modalities of giving evidence. In particular, it was difficult to prove the existence of a verdict : either witnesses (the "court records") or the judge who had passed the sentence had to be heard. This explains the French saying : "better writs than witnesses".

 

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