28 March 2007

It doesn't take a sandwich to choke

Its 82 degrees in New Orleans, and breezy. Its around 11 AM and I’m sitting in my European Legal Systems class, physically, but mentally I’m planning my afternoon. So many possibilities: I could go to the bubble tea café and read my new Breton book; I could go to the park and listen to some music in the grass; I could go to the corner of Carrolton and order a latte and a bowl of strawberries- work on my contracts homework and plan my French lesson.
I could go to the market, buy some fresh shrimp and invite the girls over for early dinner on the porch. I could forget about contracts completely and take the bus down to the French Quarter, spend all afternoon trying on new spring dresses that I can’t afford....
“Ms. Peacock?” says my professor, interrupting my thoughts.
“Um.... yes... um...” I try frantically to remember the last thing he said, where we are in the book, what my name is... nothing is coming.
“Ministère Public?” he says, peering over his glasses as I attempt to read everything in front of me at once.
“Yes, Ministère Public... they um,” I look down and see a footnote I’ve underlined, so I read what it says: “In France, in certain manners, the party must inform the ministère public of the pendency of the proceedings, so that it may give the court its opinion.” I look up at the professor to see if thats anywhere close to what he wants.
“Well, that is true, but why?” he asks, still peering.
“Because of...” I look for anymore clues from my notes. “Because of public interest.” I say. Even I don’t know what I am talking about now.
“What does the ministère public have to do with public interest?” he asks.
The girl next to me tries to put her pen down on my book near the spot where the supposed answer is, but this just makes me more nervous. Does everyone know this answer? This is an impossible question! No one could possibly know!
“They, um, the, um... Ministère has to do with public interest because... They, um....” I look up to him, my eyes pleading with him to stop asking me this question.
What is their function, Ms. Peacock?” he asks again.
A voice behind me says “Professor?”
“Yes Mr. Johnson.” he says.
“The ministère public can act as the government’s attorney and intervene in the public interest, kind of like.....” he continues, a brief but concise explanation on the organization.
“That’s right, Mr. Johnson” says the professor.
I look down at my book again, and see, on the page right in front of me, the first paragraph highlighted, and to the side, where I had written in my favorite red pen:
Functions of the Ministère Public: 1. act as gov’t attorney in criminal proceedings and otherwise, 2. (sparingly) intervene in any litigation to represent the public interest.

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