Henry Mornard (1859 - 1928)

Henry Mornard


Judges & lawyers

Henry Mornard was Lucie Dreyfus's lawyer for the quashing of the 1894 conviction, and lawyer for Alfred Dreyfus for the review of the Rennes verdict. He was born at Saint-Quentin in the Aisne on 31 October 1859.

The son of an attorney, Mornard received his doctorate in law and joined the Paris Bar in 1886. He collaborated with Bouchié de Belle and Roger-Marvaize, two lawyers at the Council of State and the Court of Cassation. In 1889, he married the daughter of the latter, and was appointed First Secretary of the Conférence du Stage des Avocats at the Council of State and the Court of Cassation. In the fall of 1891, his speech focused on how people are the servants of institutions.

He succeeded his father-in-law in May 1892, and was recommended to defend Zola after his first conviction before the Paris Court of Assize. On 2 April 1898, the court overturned the verdict, ruling that the War Minister was not qualified to make a formal complaint that the author had denounced a verdict-only the Paris court martial had been attacked. He then agreed to represent Lucie Dreyfus, who was her husband's legal guardian, in order to request the quashing of the 1894 verdict. Although he was inundated with death threats, his request for a supplementary investigation was granted on 29 October 1898. The use during the trial of correspondence between Esterhazy and his lawyer earned him a complaint from the President of the Paris Bar, and a refusal by the lawyers' guild "to follow up on the incident, given the special circumstances of the matter."

His report for the first quashing of the verdict, dated 24 April 1899, ran to more than 600 pages and requests an end to "a martyrdom that has gone on too long," while accepting a review before a second court martial of a "loyal soldier who, pursued into his prison cell by a hatred belonging to another age (…) has suffered the vilest of torments to save the honor of his name." After the second conviction, on 10 September, Mornard met with the Prime Minister and suggested a pardon before a new request could be filed "such that the affair could be definitively ended, and in order to cleanse, once and for all, our judicial annals of this stain."

Although in June 1901 and June 1902, he discouraged Dreyfus from filing an appeal without new evidence, in November 1903, he filed the second request for review, submitted a report in January 1904, and signed, on 25 April 1905, the report for the second quashing, which was prepared in close collaboration with his client. In more than 700 pages, Mornard requested the Court to rule on the merits and decide the case itself, since the acquittal of Esterhazy prevented "oral proceedings between all parties" and since an appeal cannot be requested "if the annulment of the decree with respect to a living sentenced person results in nothing that could be qualified as a crime or misdemeanor." His argumentation, which was heard one last time from 5-7 July 1906 before the combined chambers of the Court of Cassation, ended in the rehabilitation decree of 12 July 1906.

Elected president of the Bar on 24 July 1913, he recalled that he had worked "to advance law and to eliminate the arbitrary." He left the Bar in 1925, and became a Franciscan tertiary. He died in 1928, considering that his life "would not have been lived without some usefulness to the public good."