“The best compliment I’ve ever been given is ‘You’re a funny judge’”

When we asked Eric Halphen to have an aperitif with The world, he gave us the choice between two institutions on the left bank in Paris: Le Rostand or Le Select. Ultimately, it will be the second option. A brasserie that he has known since the time when, as a student, he came from Versailles to take classes at the law faculty on rue d’Assas, a stone’s throw away. The café is located between the train station and the university. “I’ve been coming here for a very long time, I don’t live far away. I have always loved the Montparnasse district”, he says, this cold January evening, over a glass of Chablis, ramekins of olives and pretzels to accompany. We order the same thing.

When the author of these lines met Judge Halphen for the first time, twenty years ago, it was already over a glass (of champagne). The place was not a brewery, but the architect’s studio of Roland Castro. The former sixty-eighter then launched a Concrete Utopia Movement and took intellectuals, activists, students, artists and, therefore, a former investigating judge on leave into this adventure.

A real celebrity, Judge Halphen, back in the day. A figure in the fight against corruption. A few months earlier, he had co-founded the Anticor association. But, above all, he came out of the investigation into the HLM affair of the City of Paris. A tortuous story, with many twists and turns. Examples ? When Eric Halphen wanted to search the home of the mayor of Paris, the Gaullist Jean Tiberi, the police refused to assist him. The judge will even go so far as to summon the President of the Republic, Jacques Chirac, as a simple witness. It will eventually be divested.

“No hard feelings”

Halphen will recount this pivotal period of his life in a best-selling book, Seven years of solitude (Denoël, 2002). “I was on leave between 2002 and 2007. I experienced my release as a real injustice. No one thanked me for all the work I had done. I wanted to quit, I didn’t want to come backhe confides. I found myself alone. It was super hard. It hurt me. » In this story, his wife left, those close to the RPR, the ancestor of the Les Républicains party, said worse than to hang on him, tarnishing his reputation. Judge Halphen paid a high price. However, he assures that he has no “no hard feelings” : “I am optimistic by nature”he swears.

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At the end of the “affair”, he fumbles, he hesitates. He tried politics, alongside Jean-Pierre Chevènement, in 2002, but did not succeed in being elected deputy. For a certain number of left-wing voters, “Che” would have stolen votes from Lionel Jospin, preventing the socialist from qualifying for the second round of the presidential election. In his place, it is Jean-Marie Le Pen, the president of the National Front (FN), the ancestor of the National Rally, who will face Jacques Chirac. The Chevénementist candidates will be swept away in the legislative elections that will follow, Eric Halphen among them. The latter will attempt the political adventure again fifteen years later, in 2017, still in the legislative elections, still with the idea of ​​overcoming the right-left divide, but in the Macronist ranks. Again without success.

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