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From closing arguments to the Moras report

From closing arguments to the Moras report

Mornard's final report for Dreyfus

Alfred Dreyfus had requested an inquiry in April 1903; it was concluded in the summer of 1904, and the closing decree was issued in November of that same year. The public prosecutor's summing-up ended on 10 March 1905, and called for the verdict to be overturned without appeal. Captain Dreyfus could then bring forward any final arguments. On 25 April, his lawyer Henri Mornard produced a 700-page report that recapitulated the contradictory systems of Dreyfus's accusers, the sequence of events at the Rennes trial, items that had come to light later concerning forged evidence of espionage, and both material and moral elements pointing the finger at Esterhazy. A fifth section expanded upon the consequences resulting from the evidence and the means of an annulment without appeal. At the request of his client, Mornard excluded any decree based on a statute of limitations, legal qualification of the evidence, or a pardon. Alfred Dreyfus wanted to use only "means that would categorically establish [his] innocence and the guilt of Esterhazy." Mornard's report was deemed by Dreyfus to be "a remarkable and conscientious work." It asked the Court of Cassation to rule on the merits and without appeal, since the acquittal of Esterhazy has prevented proceedings with oral arguments between all parties" and since there could be no appeal "if cancellation of the decree with respect to a living condemned man leaves nothing that could be qualified as a crime or a misdemeanor."

The final year of waiting

In order for the affair to be heard by the combined chambers, a rapporteur had to review the public prosecutor's summing-up as well as the report filed in the name of Captain Dreyfus; various misadventures slowed this stage. Sarrut, the president of the Civil Chamber, was the target of a campaign by anti-Dreyfusards because he was a member of a committee to erect a statue to Senator Scheurer-Kestner. Xavier Puech, councilor to the Chamber of Petitions and former assistant to Attorney-General Jean-Pierre Manau, withdrew for health reasons, as did Louis Delcurrou, former president of the Bordeaux Court of Appeals. Shortly after Louis Michel-Jaffard-former president of the court in Aix and councilor to the Chamber of Petitions-agreed to take charge of the report, he produced a medical certificate stating that he was unavailable for several months. The 18 May 1905 edition of L'Intransigeant rejoiced in this "very peculiar epidemic," and wondered if it would be cured by "the power of Jewish gold."

Clément Moras, who had been a member of the Court of Cassation since 1901, was granted leave in order to prepare the report. It was finally ready in 1906 and, in February of that year, the Minister of Justice expressed its desire that the case be heard. However, the president explained that the high court would devoted itself to dealing with electoral disputes prior to the upcoming legislative elections. The Moras report would not be read before 18 June. Dreyfus found it to be "quite firm on the emptiness of the accusations brought against me, but too indulgent for my adversaries and imprecise with respect to Henry, in that it misjudged the scope of his criminal actions that started in 1894."


Title page of Mornard's statement of case dated 25 April 1904

Councilor Clément Moras