Violent evacuation of Montpellier University in 2018: the disciplinary sanction imposed on Jean-Luc Coronel de Boissezon upon appeal is too lenient and must be revised

Décision de justice
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For his involvement in the violent removal of students occupying the amphitheatre of Montpellier University in 2018, Jean-Luc Coronel de Boissezon, a university professor, was dismissed from public service by the disciplinary body of first instance of research professors. The sanction was downgraded after an appeal, and reduced to a ban on carrying out his duties for four years, with no salary. The Conseil d’État, to which the case was submitted for cassation, found the latest sanction too lenient in view of the research professor's misconduct during the events. It, therefore, annulled the ruling and sent the case back to the disciplinary body of appeal, for a new ruling on the conduct of Jean-Luc Coronel de Boissezon.

On the night of 22 to 23 March 2018, students occupying an amphitheatre in the Montpellier University Faculty of Law as part of a national protest movement were violently removed by individuals from outside wearing hoods and armed with wooden planks and a taser. Jean-Luc Coronel de Boissezon, a law professor teaching at Montpellier University, took part in the removal and thus became the subject of legal and disciplinary action.

As a disciplinary measure, Jean-Luc Coronel de Boissezon was dismissed by the disciplinary section of the academic council of the Sorbonne University and prohibited from working in a public establishment. The national council for higher education and research (CNESER), ruling on an appeal against that disciplinary measure on 23 March 2022, reduced the sanction to a prohibition on working in teaching or research in any public higher educational institution for a period of four years, with the loss of all his salary. The ministry for higher education and research and Montpellier University found that measure inadequate, and brought the case before the Conseil d’État, which today annulled the ruling of the CNESER.

In its decision, the Conseil d’État found that the evidence produced confirmed the participation of Jean-Luc Coronel de Boissezon in the events of the night of 22 to 23 March 2018, and that he had personally taken part in physical assaults. It noted that for that same conduct, the criminal court of Montpellier had found on 2 July 2021 (in a ruling with a pending appeal) that the collective violence had been premeditated and that Jean-Luc Coronel de Boissezon had directly participated in it, in the university in which he was employed as a research professor, even though he already had a past criminal conviction for violent behaviour. For his acts, the criminal court sentenced him to 14 months in prison with 8 of those months suspended, and an additional ban from holding any public position or employment for one year.

The Conseil d’État stated in its ruling that the French Education Code provides for seven levels of disciplinary measures, ranging from reprimand to dismissal, for research professors and academics from higher educational institutions found guilty of misconduct during the discharge of their duties. In view of that penalty scale, it found that the measure applied by the CNESER, which is a level 5 sanction, was too lenient in view of the seriousness of Jean-Luc Coronel de Boissezon's misconduct. On these grounds, the Conseil d’État sent the case back to the CNESER for a review of the measure to be applied; the other possible levels are compulsory retirement or dismissal.


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