Monday, July 4, 2011

DSK Counters with a Slander Suit against Banon

Here. The alleged facts are "imaginary," say DSK's lawyers. Dénonciation calomnieuse: this was the issue in the European Court of Human Rights decision discussed here.

Ce débat s’inscrit naturellement dans le cadre de l’affaire Strauss-Kahn, et plus encore à la suite de la mise en cause de la crédibilité de la plaignante. On peut également le rapprocher d’un événement bien plus discret, mais néanmoins éclairant : la condamnation de la France par la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme le 30 juin 20111. Il s’agissait d’une jeune femme condamnée pour dénonciation calomnieuse sur le fondement de l’ancien article 226-10 du Code pénal. Elle avait été poursuivie sur ce chef par un individu qu’elle avait accusé de viol, mais qui avait bénéficié d’un non lieu, faute de charges suffisantes.


Mitch Guthman said...

A few questions for those more knowledgeable about French politics and law:

1. Is this simply an attempt by DSK to intimidate TB by reminding her that, though he might be disgraced, he nonetheless remains part of the “classe politique” and she’d better be careful because the power will always “circle the wagons” against a nobody like her to protect one of their own.

2. In most American jurisdictions a slander suit such as this would be considered an act of suicide by DSK partly because the scope of discovery in civil lawsuits (and most particularly in defamation suits) is extraordinarily wide-ranging. Very little is completely off-limits.

Because truth is considered a complete defense in defamation cases and also because defamation is a somewhat disfavored cause of action, most American courts would probably allow DSK and others (perhaps even his wife and certain of his lawyers----but unquestionably his political advisors and friends) to be questioned about what he told them about the incident. So, for example, would it be possible for TB to force DSK to produce all of the files and records of the lawyer who wrote the now famous letters to her publisher and others to see whether DSK ever admitted to him that TB’s version of events was true?

How does discovery work in French courts and would it perhaps encompass the things I've suggested?

3. I also have more questions about what evidence the plaintiff in a slander suit must turn over to the defendant in a slander suit. Might DSK be required to turn over materials, etc related to the current criminal matter? My interest is that under American law it is very dangerous for a criminal defendant to simultaneously be a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit related to the same event.

(This last two questions are obviously related to my earlier questions about discovery in French civil lawsuits)

Arthur Goldhammer said...

On the slander question, see my earlier post about the debate between jurists about a ECHR ruling in a similar case.