The French Revolution and the organization of justice

Adrien Duport

Fundamental Principles Of Policing And Justice, Submitted On Behalf Of The Committee On The Constitution

22 December 1789

At the point where the joint Committees on the Constitution and the Criminal Law are about to submit to the National Assembly the plan for the organization of the police and the criminal justice system, I thought it might be useful to offer in advance the essential foundations of our work for the reflection of those who will be attending to these important subjects. It is a disadvantage for the members of the National Assembly that, because they are forced to move quickly from one subject to another, they do not always arrive prepared by reflection upon the subjects being considered. This disadvantage would be most disastrous for the present subject, since simple errors can produce the most unpleasant consequences for the honour, liberty and life of the citizens.

These are the foundations on which the police and justice should be based. These two institutions serve to preserve liberty, order and peace among men. These are the means of firmly establishing this general and reciprocal guarantee of all the rights of man, the principle according to which they join together in society. Finally, this is the way to reach the solution for this major social problem. To find out how, with the smallest possible inconvenience to each individual, it is possible to ensure that all can enjoy their abilities, their resources and their rights to the fullest possible degree.


This text is a translation from the French. The French version comes from the record of the parliamentary debates of the time:

Archives parlementaires de 1787 à 1860,
Première série (1787 à 1789), Tome X, du 12 novembre 1789 au 24 décembre 1789, Paris, Librairie administrative de Paul Dupont,
1878, pages 744 to 746.