Alphonse Bard (1850 - 1942)

Alphonse Bard


Judges & lawyers

Alphonse Bard was born in Paris on 26 March 1850. He was the passionate rapporteur for the initial quashing of the judgment against Dreyfus, and president of the chamber during the second trial that ended in Dreyfus's rehabilitation.

Alphonse was an orphan in state custody when Antoine Bard adopted him on 11 February 1854. His adoptive father was the grandson of General Bard, a notary at Paray-le-Monial, and a Republican MP from Saône-et-Loire in 1849. He had voted to end the death penalty before leaving political life in the wake of the coup d'état of 2 December 1851. As an employee of the Crédit Foncier, he watched over the studies of his son, noting his "proven talent for oral expression," "a prelude to the brightest of careers."

Alphonse Bard was awarded two prizes in philosophy in the concours général des lycées (a high school competition), earned an undergraduate diploma in literature in 1869 and was made a doctor of law in 1874. Beginning in 1872 he was a lawyer at the Court of Appeals in Paris, as well as First Secretary of the Conference, and co-author of one of the first books on the constitution of 1875, studying its relationship to constitutions of other nations. He began his career as judge as a deputy public prosecutor of the Republic in Marseille, and then in Paris in 1879; he devoted himself "enthusiastically to his speeches for the defense," and was appointed assistant to the public prosecutor in 1884.

By 1888, he was Director of Civil Affairs and the Seal at the Ministry of Justice, and on 16 April 1892 he was appointed Councilor to the Court of Cassation. As rapporteur for the Dreyfus case before the Criminal Chamber on 22 October 1898, he encouraged his colleagues to remain "impervious to both threats and insults." In January 1899, he was, along with president Loew and public prosecutor Manau, labeled a member of "a trio of rogues." Henri Rochefort denounced the "shamefulness of the brewery girls at the Court of Cassation," while La Libre Parole published the judges' addresses.

During the investigation that preceded the removal of the case from the Criminal Chamber, anti-Dreyfusard councilors and witnesses were questioned about the behavior of the judges during their deliberations. After the second conviction, Bard confided in 1902 to Henri Mornard, Dreyfus's lawyer, that staying with the solution of the pardon "would be a failure of Justice."

Alphonse Bard was appointed president of the Criminal Chamber in March 1905, and retired from this position after twenty years. In 1927, he completed a long manuscript on the Affair, in which he denounced the Rennes trial and the manner in which the affair had become confused. When this Grand Officer in the Legion of Honor died in Paris on 27 July 1942, leaving everything to the State welfare services, the Justice Minister of the Vichy government sealed his house, in which there were "many important dossiers devoted to the Dreyfus Affair."