You are here :
Home /
The long road to justice /
Towards the quashing of the case without appeal /
The review process

The review process

The whole truth and nothing but the truth

On 4 December 1903, writing in La Petite République, Jaurès expressed his reservations if the Court of Cassation were to overturn the judgment and send the case back to the court martial, which would give the last word to "the military tribe and the caste mentality." Speaking about the proceedings, Jaurès said, "The truth must be known; the duty of the Court of Cassation's-and the supreme interest of the convicted innocent man-is to drive the investigation forward until every obscurity will have been removed. No matter how probative the new dossier is, it will not exempt the judges from the decisive effort needed to resolve all of the problems (…) It is not enough for the innocent man to be legally rehabilitated. In addition, we must crush, in every corner of the affair that remains dark, any nests that could one day give rise to new lies and new stories. The whole inquiry, the whole light, the whole truth; this must be the order of the day of those who would leave the conscience of the country in definitive safety."

On 24 December, "staggered at the sight of so many forgeries," the review commission issued a unanimous decision in favor of review; the following day, the minister wrote to the public prosecutor in order to point out two pieces of evidence that would establish the innocence of the condemned man: a forgery in which the writing was altered, and another in which the date was changed. Manuel Baudoin wrote his brief until 17 January 1904, and concluded that the request for review was admissible, that the Rennes judgment should be overturned and that supplemental information could be introduced. Based on expert assessments, the conclusions of Dreyfus's lawyer were filed on 30 January; they were supplemented on 1 February by a forty-page memorandum by Dreyfus, who stated that neither the bordereau nor the secret dossier contained "the least suspicion" against him, but that what remained was "the formal and absolute proof of the guilt of Esterhazy."

The Court of Cassation's investigation

After two days of debates that were open to the public, the Court of Cassation declared the request for review admissible, and decided upon a supplemental investigation that would begin three days later. Beginning on 8 March, the Court was given every piece of evidence, including those of related cases and the secret diplomatic dossier. Vincent Duclert has pointed out that that the documents from the sealed general staff cabinet were examined until 15 March, the "large secret dossier" until 29 March, and the 220 diplomatic documents until 18 June. After receiving a general officers' report that ruled out the idea that certain terms in the bordereau could have been used by an artilleryman, and having heard other experts as well as Alfred Dreyfus, the Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation closed its investigation on 28 November 1904.

In Dreyfus's view, the investigation had "completely and definitively dashed all of the alleged charges brought against [him] and had laid bare every criminal acts of [his] accusers." His enemies' methods had been simple: favorable evidence had been suppressed or concealed, while other documents had been altered and total forgeries had been created. In filing before the Court, Captain Targe announced that his minister had stipulated that he "point out these intrigues in order that they be condemned by the Court, and so that any future reference to them will be impossible." The end of the investigation had this goal in mind.


Public prosecutor Baudoin

List of pieces of evidence in the review trial