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behind the scenes of a criminal law firm


These are rare images that Isabelle Curet and Emmanuel Guionet, the authors of the documentary, managed to capture. Defendaired Wednesday 1er December in the weekly program “Infrarouge”, on France 2. Raw images and without commentary of the daily life of the Parisian criminal law firm Ruben & Associés. For several months, their camera was able to slip behind the scenes of the criminal defense as close as possible to those who, accused or civil parties, are one day required to enter a court. And get a lawyer.

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Among the hundreds of files handled by the firm, there is Jonathan, a young man accused of “failure to assist a person in danger” after the death of a friend with whom he had consumed MDMA; Romain, already burdened with sixteen convictions, returned to court for drug trafficking; or even this young man suspected of having stolen a game console at gunpoint.

All of them, despite the anguish they shared at the time of ending up in prison, agreed that the preparatory interviews they had with their advisers would be filmed without their faces being blurred. A crucial step normally inaccessible to viewers as the legal strategy usually prefers discretion. The cases on screen have all been tried since.

Courtroom reality

Exchanges are unfiltered. Steeve Ruben, 45, and Philippe-Henry Honegger, 38, the firm’s two partners, know that it will be even harder at the hearing and strive to create a bridge between a clientele, often young and little fact of the functioning of the judicial system, and the magistrates they will have to convince. “We will prepare your version, I play the cop, you answer me”Honegger told a customer. “Short and clear answer! »he cuts off immediately as he awkwardly embarked on his report to firearms. “Justice is not a confessional! »said Reuben to another.

Steve Ruben, lawyer: “Justice is not a confessional! »

Over the course of sixty minutes, breathless, often funny, sometimes touching, the spectator accompanies the firm’s team during days whose rhythm is given as much by the energetic Steve Ruben as by the criminal urgency of the cases they deal with. have to deal with. Morning meeting to take stock of current cases, first trip to prison for a very young lawyer, first meetings for another.

The young team that surrounds Ruben and Honegger confronts their ideal of justice with the reality of the courtrooms while listening to the advice given by their elders on how to address magistrates, jurors or clients. In the footsteps of Commando Ruben, the contours of today’s criminal defense are gradually taking shape. Modern, responsive, relentless. Close to reality too. As a daily response to a justice whose shortcomings are no longer to be demonstrated.

Defend, documentary by Isabelle Curet and Emmanuel Guionet (Fr., 2021, 65 min). Broadcast as part of the “Infrarouge” program on France 2.



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