Clément Moras (1844 - 1917)

Clément Moras


Judges & lawyers

Rapporteur for the quashing of the second conviction of Captain Dreyfus, Pierre Dominique Clément Moras was born in Auterive in the Haute-Garonne on 3 March 1844.

He was the descendant of a rich family of notaries from the Muret region; he earned a law degree in 1863, and a doctorate in law in 1869. He failed the competitive examination to become a law professor, and became the secretary to a lawyer at the Council of State and the Court of Cassation, before replacing the imperial prosecutor in Saint-Girons on 15 September 1870. Not wanting to become a deputy public prosecutor in a southern court of assize, he resigned in May 1872.

He was faithful to the Republican cause, and became head of the public prosecutor in Muret in May 1879; he served the Republic with his "steadfast and moderate opinions." He joined the Moissac court, which was known to be hostile to Republican institutions. He was appointed deputy public prosecutor in Toulouse in July 1880, and became counsel for the prosecution there in 1882. He then became head of the public prosecutor at Bastia in 1885. On 26 February 1888, the Journal de Bastia lamented the departure of one who had given "an example of enthusiasm, accuracy and obedience to professional obligations [and who had] a manner of speaking that was easy, elegant and clear."

Head of the public prosecutor's office at Angers (1888), Montpellier (1891) and Lyon (October 1895), he was appointed councilor to the Court of Cassation on 15 May 1901. In 1904, he accepted the task of synthesizing the long inquiry associated with the Dreyfus case, justifying the opinion of the President of the Toulouse Court of Appeal who, in 1882, had written that Moras reassures "the friends of the government by his well-known republican opinions [and dominates] his opponents by the authority of his talent, his loyal and energetic character, and the tact and prudence of his general conduct."

With his "elegant and supple speech, graceful and devoid of affectation and studied elegance," Clément Moras read his report over five sessions, from 18 to 21 June 1906. Alfred Dreyfus found it "too indulgent towards [his] adversaries" but "quite steadfast on the emptiness of the charges against [him]." He retired early to the village where he was born, where he died in May 1917. In the funeral orations, given on 16 October of the same year, likening him to presidents Ballot-Beaupré, Baudoin and Loew, counsel for the prosecution Peyssonié emphasized that, in the famous case in which they were involved, "the Court of Cassation drew its sole inspiration-as always-from the law and the truth."