In the shoes of a lawyer with Me Jakubowicz: “I am only able to extract myself from tears when I plead”

Eloise Bertil
modified to

08:26, December 26, 2022


“You can almost say that we arrive in this courtroom backwards”, confides Alain Jakubowicz in episode 5 of the podcast “Le Coupable”, when remembering the first day of the trial for the murder of Arthur Walnut. The lawyer for the accused Nordahl Lelandais explains how he and his collaborators prepared for this hearing. “With my team, we worked a lot on the file. We went to the scene, we redid the whole journey, we timed everything. We try to work like in American soap operas, without having the same means. of course,” he says. Alain Jakubowicz is thus aware that the outcome of this trial will be decisive for the judgment of another case to come, the Maëlys case, the investigation of which is still in progress at this time. In the press, Nordahl Lelandais begins to be called a “serial killer”. “We are ready, but we are a little feverish, because we know that it is a trial run and that there is another trial which awaits us afterwards”, recognizes the defense lawyer.

During this trial for the murder of Corporal Arthur Noyer, the hearings follow one another, and the former relatives of Nordahl Lelandais speak at the bar. They don’t understand how the man they thought they knew could commit acts of such violence. But faced with them, the accused does not waver. He shows no regrets, doesn’t say a word. The journalists present then all ask themselves the same question: will Me Jakubowicz succeed in getting his client to speak? The lawyer explains: “We try to control what is controllable. The first thing I learned from my ‘master’ when I took the oath was that your worst enemy is your client. So “We try to prepare it, but we don’t redo human nature. I never advise a client to force his nature because it shows through. What the judges probe is the sincerity of a man in his confession.” “

More broadly, Alain Jakubowicz reminds us, “the role of a lawyer is not to make his client speak. If I consider that this will serve his defence, that it will allow us to have a better result, of course I will incline him to do it. But it is he who chooses, not me. Because it is he who will serve the years in prison”.

In a trial at the assizes like the one for the murder of Arthur Noyer, the moment of the defense argument which comes at the end of the proceedings is all the more important since the jurors do not have a paper file to forge their intimate conviction. Their verdict is based on what happens during the hearing, on what each other has to say. For Alain Jakubowicz, the pleading of a defense lawyer must be constructed like a “puzzle: the lawyer who intervenes last takes all the pieces and builds an ‘image’. A good pleading is is when all the pieces fit together, and in the end you’ve drawn the defense you want to organize.” Then the defense attorney rises to plead. Me Jakubowicz then describes what one feels at this fateful moment: “It is a terrible and magical moment. It is the consecration of the profession of lawyer, a moment of omnipotence, because you cannot be interrupted And after that, it’s the interstellar void…”. For the murder of Arthur Noyer, Nordahl Lelandais was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment.

To discover the workings of justice through the story of Alain Jakubowicz, listen to “Le Coupable”, an Original podcast produced by Spotify and Europe 1 Studio available free of charge and exclusively on Spotify.

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