DiscoverLaw on FilmCourted (L'Hermine) (France) (Guests: Fred Davis & Sam Bettwy) (episode 15)
Courted (L'Hermine) (France) (Guests: Fred Davis & Sam Bettwy) (episode 15)

Courted (L'Hermine) (France) (Guests: Fred Davis & Sam Bettwy) (episode 15)

Update: 2023-11-21


Courted (French: L'Hermine), a 2015 French drama directed by Christian Vincent, is centered around a criminal trial in France. The accused, Martial Beclin (Victor Pontecorvo), is charged with manslaughter, which carries a possible twenty-year prison sentence, for allegedly kicking his seven-month-old daughter to death. The trial is conducted in France’s cour d’assises, which hears more serious crimes. The president and senior judge, Michel Racine (Fabrice Luchini), runs a tight ship. Courted offers valuable insights into judges, jurors, and criminal procedure in France, and provides a vehicle to compare criminal trials there to those in the United States. The film also contains a romantic sub-plot that traces Judge Racine’s relationship with one of the jurors and an old friend, Ditte Lorensen-Coteret  (played by the Danish actress, Sidse Babett Knudsen). My guests to discuss Courted and comparative criminal justice in films are Fred Davis, an international lawyer and Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School, and Sam Bettwy, an Adjunct Professor at the University of San Diego Law School and the Thomas Jefferson School of Law.


0:00      Introduction
5:55      Comparing criminal justice through film
10:57   Learning from another country’s criminal justice system
13:56   The cour d’assises and jury trials in France
18:32   The European Court of Human Rights’ ruling in Taxquet v. Belgium
20:06   Comparing the French and U.S. criminal justice systems through film
25:56   The judge’s role in France
30:00   Compiling the dossier in French criminal investigations
35:20   How other countries view the right against self-incrimination
40:27   Juries in the French system
45:34   Who the hero is at trial and what it signifies
50:28   Appealing an acquittal in France
52:57   Fulfilling one’s role in the system

Further Reading:

Bettwy, Samuel W., Comparative Criminal Procedure Through Film: Analytical Tools & Law and Film Summaries by Legal Tradition and Country (2015)

Donovan, James W., Juries and the Transformation of Criminal Justice in France in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (2010)

Kirry, Antoine, Davis, Frederick T. & Bisch, Alexander, “France,” in The International Investigations Review (Nicolas Bourtin ed.) (10th ed. 2020)

Prot, Bénédicte, “L'Hermine, a gentle film,” Cineuropa,

Robert, Philippe, “The French Criminal Justice System,” in Punishment in Europe: A Critical Anatomy of Penal Systems (Vincenzo Ruggerio et al. eds) (2013)

Law on Film is created and produced by Jonathan Hafetz. Jonathan is a professor at Seton Hall Law School. He has written many books and articles about the law. He has litigated important cases to protect civil liberties and human rights while working at the ACLU and other organizations. Jonathan is a huge film buff and has been watching, studying, and talking about movies for as long as he can remember.
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Courted (L'Hermine) (France) (Guests: Fred Davis & Sam Bettwy) (episode 15)

Courted (L'Hermine) (France) (Guests: Fred Davis & Sam Bettwy) (episode 15)

Jonathan Hafetz