La Justice à Huis Clos?

La Justice à Huis Clos?

La Justice à Huis Clos?

Slate's blog on legal issues.
May 15 2008 10:44 AM

La Justice à Huis Clos?

Eric, we're fast approaching the end of my French vocabulary, and I really don't want to resort to using Google's translator to keep up with this conversation.  But I think you're misapplying the Catch-22 standard to the French sentencing decision announced yesterday. It is true that the French court relied on some classified evidence to reach its verdict. But this was not la justice à huis clos , or justice behind closed doors. The French system, like ours , provides for the use of classified material. The material was fully disclosed to the parties involved—prosecutors, defense attorneys, and the finder of fact (in this case, French judges). The court subsequently reached a verdict, relying in part on that secret evidence. 

Although the public may never see the actual classified evidence produced in the case, I think the public may trust the verdict because of its faith in the court as an institution, and the public faith in the court's mechanisms for managing classified information in the interests of justice. Compare and contrast this with the military commissions at Gitmo—where we have no faith in the institution, no faith in its procedural mechanisms, and very little confidence that it will handle classified material in a way that furthers justice.