Jean-Pierre Manau (1822 - 1908)

Jean-Pierre Manau


Judges & lawyers

Public prosecutor during the quashing of the February 1898 trial that Zola lost, as well as during the overturning of the verdict that had convicted Dreyfus, Jean-Pierre Manau was born at Moissac in the Tarn-et-Garonne department on 18 August 1822.

The son of a master glazier, Manau became a doctor of law, and was lawyer and secretary to Ledru-Rollin at the Ministry of the Interior after the 1848 revolution. He was exiled for four years at the beginning of the Second Empire, and had charges brought against him in 1851 and 1858. He became a lawyer again in Montauban and then in Toulouse, and was recommended to Gambetta after the proclamation of the Third Republic.

Although in Toulouse he headed a commission that oversaw the removal of judges opposed to the Republic, he was against the Commune, and was appointed chief counsel for the prosecution in September 1870. In Paris, he became a judge in March 1871, councilor to the Court of Appeal in September 1879, and president of the chamber a year later.

Appointed to the Court of Cassation on 6 May 1882, he was recognized as a "hard-working [judge] and one of the most capable." Describing himself as "an old Republican of 1848," he sought the presidency of one of the Court's chambers in February 1890, and was appointed on 15 March 1892. On 13 March 1893, he was appointed public prosecutor, and in this position, on 16 December 1897, he was able to obtain the rehabilitation of the memory of a Republican teacher, Pierre Vaux, an innocent man who had died in Cayenne on 13 January 1875. Manau then gave the summing-up in the Zola and Dreyfus trials. His summing-up in the Zola trial ended: "you do not follow the crowd to do evil, and when you reach a decision in a trial, you shall not decide to follow the majority all the way into corruption of the law."

Because he refused "to see corrupt and traitorous men in those who took lifelong pride in their indefatigable labors," a member of the Chamber of Deputies had no qualms about ranking Manau, along with his colleagues Bard and Loew, in a "trio of rogues." He served until the age of 78, having noted ten years previously that he had no other fortune but his wages. He was made public prosecutor emeritus on 3 October 1900, and two days later was made a Grand Officer in the Legion of Honor.

He died at Vernon on 3 February 1908. His successor Manuel Baudoin saw in him "one of the finest examples of civic courage, and on 16 October 1908, hailed "the fact that he was of his time but not blindly, and of his party but without servility" and "unquenchable political faith."