French lawyer defends request to replace Jewish judge

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — A French lawyer who cited a judge’s Jewish name in demanding his recusal defended himself in court against hate-speech charges.

The lawyer, Alexis Dubruel, appeared Tuesday before the Paris Correctional Tribunal to address charges brought by Memoire 2000, a nonprofit organization combating racism, according to a report by a regional edition of the news website of the French television channel France 3.

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The court is expected to deliver a ruling on Sept. 11.

Dubruel was disbarred in his home city of Lyon last year over the case, which started in 2012 when he cited the name of Judge Albert Levy in a motion for recusal. Levy was presiding over a custody case in which one of the parents, the adversary of Dubruel’s client, was named Moses.

He has appealed and his disbarment is pending further deliberations.

Dubruel attached the Wikipedia definitions of Moses and Levy to his motion, arguing Levy was less than impartial because of the Jewish link.

Serge Tavitian, the lawyer representing Memoire 2000, said Dubruel’s request constituted hate speech.

But Dubruel disputed this accusation in court, arguing his request lacked the public nature that is required to constitute hate speech or incitement.

He also said he was acting as the legal representative of his client, and that the motion for recusal was his client’s wish. Dubruel denied any anti-Semitic tendencies, according to the Le Progres daily.