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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 70763 Find in a Library
Title: Powers of the Judges of Summary Procedure With Regard to the Seizure of Publications
Journal: Revue de science criminelle et de droit penal compare  Issue:2  Dated:(April-June 1979)  Pages:399-404
Author(s): J Bruntz
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 6
Format: Article
Language: French
Country: France
Annotation: The role of the French judge of summary procedure -- the judge sitting in chambers to deal provisionally with matters of great urgency, is discussed with regard to seizures of publications.
Abstract: According to an 1881 French law, judges of summary procedure can order seizure of all the copies of any publication but they may only do so when an intolerable attack on private life is involved. Such an attack causes damages which cannot be indemnified by a later damage award. In 1970, the notion of 'intolerable attack' was replaced by 'attack on the intimacy of private life.' But grounds for seizure included not only protection of professional activities and the public life of individuals but also protection of general interests. This new element has raised specific questions about the admissibility of seizure demands, especially by organizations whose objective is to assure defense of general interests. According to a law of 1972, associations can set in motion public action only in a limited number of circumstances such as suits for compensation of damages caused by an offense. The same associations may demand that a judge order seizure as a provisional legal measure rather than a measure for compensation of damages. The answer to the question of whether the judge of summary procedure may order seizures except when the intimacy of private life is endangered appears to be affirmative because of the broad terms of the code of civil procedure. Reservations about the judge's powers result from legal provisions designed to protect freedom of the press. Furthermore, the power of the judge of summary procedure can only extend to provisional measures which are not seriously contested. On a practical level, difficulties may arise if a judge of summary procedure orders seizure and the correctional court must later rescind the order. In any case, unless a criminal infraction is involved, the principle of freedom of the press must be observed. The constant extension of the powers of judges of summary procedure has, in the area of publications' seizures, tended to interfere with freedom of the press. It is recommended that legislators modify procedures and penalties in libel matters to protect the interests of the public without need for resorting to courts of summary procedure. Notes are supplied.
Index Term(s): France; Freedom of the press; Judges; Libel; Right of privacy; Search and seizure
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