Genesis of the school
A narrow vision of a function no longer adapted to modern society
"For a long time, the job of the judge was merely to protect property, order the execution of contracts, support minors and render justice as promptly as possible, but without imprudent haste". This was how Merlin de Douai, President of the Court of Cassation under the First Empire, described the duties of a civil judge. His definition of the criminal judge was no more glorious. According to him, the latter pronounced verdicts and visited jails to ensure that no prisoner was held for longer than his sentence. This image of the judge cut off from changes in society, prey to disputes revolving around industrial innovations of which he mastered none of the ins and outs, incapable of adapting to society's new demands relating to justice, would persist throughout the 19th century and into the early 20th century. By then judges were being accused of being unable to take account of the rules governing aviation, energy production and distribution and the growing complexity of the rail fares system.
A crisis of vocations, reflections on training
In 1931, the President of the Court of Appeal of Paris summed up in his speech at the start of the new judicial year the dismay shared by many of his colleagues faced with the growing complexity of society. Complexity that was spilling over into the legislation, leaving the judiciary feeling overwhelmed. The recurring question of the training of judges and prosecutors, who had been recruited since 1908 by a notably undemanding examination, came to a head at this time after being a source of division in the judiciary for over a century. To cope with the multiple challenges imposed by modern times, the question of creating a solid body of training thanks to a school gradually came to be asked by judges and prosecutors. First of all under the Vichy regime, and then after the end of the war. In 1945, the creation of a national administration school, the ENA, and its immediate success, finally convinced those calling for the creation of a judges and prosecutors' training school that their request was entirely justified. Nevertheless, governments came and went for thirteen years and remained deaf to the demands of the judiciary. A lack of political will, insufficient financial resources, an inability to imagine a common body of training for a profession fragmented into different specialities (first instance, local courts, overseas, etc.), there was no lack of reasons to explain the failure to create a school under the 4th Republic. However, the problem became more pressing at the end of the 1950s when there was a massive wave of retirements. Compared to the small number of young graduates with a vocation to become judges or prosecutors, large numbers of departures would very soon start to compromise the smooth running of the judicial machine.
1958: towards a new golden age for the judiciary
It therefore became clear, just as the 5th Republic was dawning, that the creation of a prestigious new training school for judges and prosecutors, combined with increases in pay, would be the only way of stimulating young law students' interest in a judicial career. Although Charles de Gaulle and Michel Debré's decision to create a training centre for future judges and prosecutors appeared to be an effective means of overcoming the "crisis in vocations", the fact remains that the National Centre for Judicial Studies (CNEJ) created in 1958 was not frankly the immediate success that was expected. The Ministry for Justice conducted a series of public opinion surveys, whose results were unequivocal: the judiciary suffered from an extremely poor image, that of a stiff, dusty, archaic profession, cut off from the real world and the rest of society, at a time when a thirst for modernity was omnipresent in French society. It then became clear that all the structural reforms envisaged would be in vain if the profession continued to be tainted by these preconceptions. It was therefore only after an intense media campaign to promote the judiciary in all its aspects, and in particular its most innovative (creation of the guardianship judge, the juvenile judge, etc.) that the Ministry managed to turn things around. In this battle of images, the decision to change the CNEJ's name in 1970 was neither innocent nor anecdotal. With its new name and the similarity between their acronyms, the School came to be seen as counterpart of the famous ENA, fitting in perfectly with France's penchant for the prestige of the "Grandes Ecoles" and thereby completing a long and arduous process of transformation of the judiciary.
HISTORY OF THE BORDEAUX AND PARIS SITES
The ENM in Bordeaux
The ENM (National School for the Judiciary) is situated in Bordeaux, near Place Pey Berland, close to the Regional Court and the Court of Appeal: together the three buildings form what is known as the Bordeaux "judicial island". It was designed by French architect Guillaume Gillet and officially opened on 12 December 1972. On 25 September 2008 it was awarded the 20th century heritage label by the Aquitaine Regional Culture Department (DRAC).
What Guillaume Gillet, a winner of the Grand Prix de Rome and member of the Institute, was aiming to do in his design was highlight two towers situated on the School site, the remains of the Fort du Hâ dating from 1453. Thanks to an inner courtyard linking the two towers and a covered concourse which constitutes the central part of the School, he created a curve around the Minimes tower, which thus became the centre of his axis.
All the teaching and learning spaces used by the trainees are laid out around this central concourse, reminiscent of a salle des pas perdus, a courthouse waiting hall: the main amphitheatre, the lecture halls, the library, the multimedia area and also the cafeteria. Its vault, emphasised by its mahogany-coloured panelling, curves round gradually, resting on slender concrete pillars that punctuate and support the picture windows, creating an elegant, light-filled space. Light plays an important role as the shadows thrown by the overhang of the 35 pillars create a subtle effect of perspective relayed by the whiteness of the Comblanchien tile floor, which is broken up by a sinuous black floor covering that cuts a path across the hall. The outer walls, also made of glass and aluminium, offer a cut-out effect both overlooking Rue du Maréchal Joffre and on the Court of Appeal side, where the roof is shaped into a succession of arches. The pond in the centre of the inner courtyard reflects both Guillaume Gillet's building and the Tour des Minimes, whose exact circumference the pond replicates.
The ENM in Paris
The ENM's base in Paris is situated on the Île de la Cité, in the 4th arrondissement. The building has façades on both Quai aux Fleurs du 19e siècle, on the Seine side, and on Rue Chanoinesse on the Notre-Dame Cathedral side. This street is named after the many canons (chanoines) from the Notre-Dame cloister who used to live there. The red brick ENM building that gives on to this street dates from 1853. It is built in an almost Romantic style, with its typically French skylights, slightly medieval-looking details and polychrome decorations on the façade. Until 1868 it was occupied by the upper echelons of the fire brigade.