Alexis Ballot-Beaupré (1839 - 1917)

Alexis Ballot-Beaupré


Judges & lawyers

Marie Clément Jules Alexis Ballot-Beaupré was born in Saint-Denis on the island of La Réunion on 15 September 1839. He was president of the Civil Chamber of the Court of Cassation and rapporteur to the Court's combined chambers of during the first quashing of the verdict that had condemned Dreyfus. He was president of the Court for the second trial that ended in Dreyfus's rehabilitation.

The son of a Navy inspector, Ballot-Beaupré was a lawyer at Paris's Court of Appeals in 1857, and became docteur en droit in 1859. In April 1862, he was deputy public prosecutor in Montbrison and held the same position in Marseille in July 1865, before becoming state prosecutor in Toulon in 1872 and a public prosecutor in Bastia in 1876. His prudence, tact and dexterity were praised, as well as his great talent in the courtroom and his "truly exceptional administrative skill." He became head of the public prosecutor's office in Nancy in 1878 and then was appointed president of the court of appeals in October 1879.

On 3 November 1882 he was named Counsel to the Court of Cassation, and then succeeded Quesnay de Beaurepaire as president of the Court's Civil Chamber on 10 January 1899. Jaurès hailed the moving eloquence with which, on 29 May, he stated his conviction that the bordereau had been written by Esterhazy, before asserting, the following day, with respect to Dreyfus's innocence, "a fact, ignored by the judges in 1894, is something to be established."

Appointed president of the Court on 2 October 1900, he led the second set of deliberations by the combined chambers. On 11 july 1906, when he learned that Clément Moras had not prepared a draft of a judgment without appeal, he pulled one from his pocket. In his Carnets, Alfred Dreyfus wrote that it was adopted without discussion, and called this text "a truly historical monument (…) a remarkable summary of the affair." This judgment, which he read out on 12 July 1906, earned Ballot-Beaupré the lasting hatred of the anti-Dreyfusards; in the 16 September 1908 edition of L'Action française, Major Cuignet called him "a leader in treachery and infamy."

Ballot-Beaupré died on 16 March 1917 in Paris. His successor to the court presidency, Louis Sarrut, hailed the lasting imprint he had left on the jurisprudence of the Court and his model judgments: "clear and precise, written in lapidary style, devoid of every unnecessary consideration." After the funeral service, from which he had barred military honors, prosecuting attorney Peyssonié stated: "He was the incarnation of the law! (…) He took judicial style to the peak of perfection."