42nd Annual Business Meeting

Aix-en-Provence & Rhône River Cruise 


President Tully Seymour & Jan
Hon. Dennis Choate & Colleen
Hon. Frederick Horn & Hon. Carolyn Kirkwood
Hon. Derek W. Hunt & Amy
Hon. Wendell Mortimer, Jr. & Ceil
Hon. Thomas Murphy & Pat
Hon. Robert Soares & Punky
Hon. James Stotler
Diane Bowen, Chief Administrative Officer

Mrs. Jean Godfrey & Louise Jones
Mrs. Linda Smith (Hon. William) & Nancy Kirkwood

MONDAY: Fellows arrived in Marseille and transferred to the Aquabella Hotel in Aix-en-Provence. The group enjoyed a walking tour of Aix, which has the third largest collection of Baroque architecture in France after Paris and Versailles. The elegance of the 17th and 18th century private mansion facades, fountains and streets have been preserved. The group met for Welcome Drinks in the hotel bar followed by the Welcome Dinner at Hue Cocotte.

TUESDAY: In the morning the Academy members visited the Cour d’appel d’Aix-en-Provence and were met by Conseiller Thierry Azema, Chargé du Secrétariat Général de la Premiére Présidence; Judge Marie-Lawrence Navarri and Judge Marc Hellier; and Interpreter Sheila Spencer. Academy members were advised the Court was in a “stronger Vigipirate phase” and the Court would “have to submit our colleagues [to] filtering common security.”  

Judge Navarri spoke to the Academy group and explained that France has a legal system stemming from Roman law and based upon codified laws. The judiciary is independent from the executive and legislative powers of government. Courts are divided into two branches, Judicial and Administrative. The Cour d’Appel is the second level, and hears appeals from the Courts of First Instance involving civil and criminal matters, commercial courts and industrial tribunals. Within the Cour d’Appel the judges specialize in family law, juvenile, criminal, diversity and other areas. Some judges are in training. Judges Navarri and Heillier hear mainly criminal matters. French criminal proceedings follow the Code of Criminal Procedure to provide equitable and adversarial proceedings. The prosecutor decides to prosecute according to prosecutorial discretion, and a criminal conviction requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt. It is up to the discretionary judgment of the sitting judges to determine the value of the evidence submitted in each case.  

The French system includes specialist judges known as investigating magistrates (juges d’instruction) who oversee investigations in the most serious and complex offenses. The process is known as the judicial investigation (information judiciaire). Cases are referred to the juge d’instruction by the public prosecutor to gather evidence that may incriminate or exonerate an accused. They do not reach any decision about a person’s guilt or innocence. When the investigation ends the juge d’instruction writes an opinion (rendre un arrêt) and the matter goes to another judge for “guilt”. 

Regional and criminal courts generally rule with three judges, one of them may be a “lay” judge. More serious criminal cases are heard in a Cour d assises, Assize Court, which is not a permanent court, but meets for two weeks every three months to hear cases. Cases are tried by three professional judges and nine “lay” citizens chosen by lot. Certain crimes, such as terrorism, are tried without a jury. There is a special office in Paris which handles terrorism cases. Judges have to authorize wire taps. There is no death penalty in France.

All appeals from the regional courts go to the Court of Appeal. Decisions by the Court of Appeal can go to the Court of Cassation, which is the highest court in the French system. It is the Court of last resort and sits in the Hall of Justice in Paris. The Court of Cassation does not judge on the facts but “checks” whether the laws have been properly applied by the lower courts. It never sits as an appeal court.

The Aix-en-Provence Cour d’Appel covers four regions -- the Alpes de Haute-Provence, the Alpes Maritimes, Bouches du Rhône and the Var -- and is the second largest in France.  Recently it has had some high profile cases involving large corporations, and Judge Heillier discussed a recent case involving the bankruptcy of a large boat company in Marseilles. It was very difficult because the company employed a lot of local and regional people. Bankruptcies are handled by special lawyers who are economic professionals paid by the Department of Justice to investigate companies. They can be prosecuted if they take bribes. 

Following lunch at the Bastide du Cours, the group enjoyed a drive into the Provence countryside and toured and tasted wine from Chateau la Cast and Chateau de Calaron, two local wineries. The evening was free.

WEDNESDAY: In the morning the group visited the Aix-Marseille Universite School of Law and met with Mr. Philippe Bonfils, Dean of the Faculty of Law, and Mr. Jean-François Marchi, Assessor of International Relations.

Dean Bonfils met with the Academy for a brief time and explained that the University has 70,000 students, 10,000 of whom are studying law. Of that number, one-half will not graduate. Law school consists of three years “general licence” and two years more for a master’s degree. Legal scholars can go into judicial, legal or commercial professions. The judge program is called “calejier.” After five years of law there is one year of judge school. After passing an exam, a student can work in an office or in the courts as a trainee.

Academy President Tully Seymour presented Dean Bonfils with a scholarship donation of $1,000, after which the Dean excused himself and Mr. Jean-François Marchi, a professor of Criminal law and a Barrister, led the discussion.

There are five campuses which make up the Aix-Marseille University. Alongside traditional courses, the law school also “includes all the issues brought about by new professional orientations such as health law, new technologies, humanitarian aid, sports law, etc., which have joined the ranks of more traditional law fields such as criminal law and administrative law”. After obtaining their bachelor’s degree, students can choose between 8 specializations and 56 specialities for their Master, comprising a number of possibilities for careers and fields of research in sectors where law is a necessary presence.

In France there are solicitors or barristers who are avocats, or attorneys, who are all-purpose lawyers for “matters of contentious jurisdiction.” However, Notaires (notaries), who are ministry-appointed lawyers with four years of law school and two years of notaire school, retain exclusivity over conveyancing and probate. To be a notaire you must buy an open position from the state, which replaces those who have retired. Two years ago, the government opened the markets and more attorneys are beginning to do what the notaires have done, but the more important matters, such as large business deals and probate, continue to use notaires.  

French attorneys usually do not (although they are entitled to) act both as litigators (trial lawyers) and legal consultants (advising lawyers), known respectively as avocat plaidant and avocat-conseil. This distinction is informal and does not delineate any difference in law school qualification or admission to the roll. 

After seven years of law school, students must pass an examination (which they can only take three times) to be able to enroll in one of the Centre régional de formation à la profession d'avocat (CRFPA), which is a center for the training of lawyers. The CRFPA course has a duration of two years and is a mix between classroom teachings and internships. Its culmination is the final training, where the attorney spends six months in a law firm generally in their chosen field of practice and in a firm in which they hope to be recruited afterwards. They then need to pass the Certificat d'Aptitude à la Profession d'Avocat (CAPA), which is the last professional examination allowing them to join a court's bar (barreau). It is generally recognized that the first examination is much more difficult than the CAPA. Each bar is regulated by a Bar Council (Ordre du barreau).

After lunch the group took a tour to Paul Cezanne’s Workshop. Cezanne was born and died in Aix-en-Provence, and did much of his painting in Aix and the surrounding areas. The workshop on Lauves Hill displays objects he treasured -- models of his last still lifes, his furniture and tools. Cezanne worked every morning in this workshop from 1902 until his death in 1906. Many of the paintings from this time are owned by great museums, including the last series of Large Bathers. Following the workshop tour the group went to a site to view Mont Sainte-Victoire, the mountain Cezanne painted many times. The group then visited the Pavillion Vendôme, built in the 1600s and surrounded by formal French gardens, now a museum which holds art shows.  

In the evening, dinner was at Lavault, a charming restaurant in the old town of Aix.

THURSDAY: In the morning the group left Aix for Salon-de-Provence, and enjoyed a lovely French lunch at La Table du Roy. After lunch the group visited Les Baux de Provence for a walking tour of the hilltop village and castle which was destroyed in the 17th century and rebuilt. It has shops, art galleries and cafes interspersed amongst the historic ruins.

The group then traveled to Arles and embarked upon the Amawaterways ship, the AmaDagio. 

FRIDAY: The AmaDagio remained docked in Arles and excursions offered included [another] tour of Les Baux and an olive farm visit or the tour most Academy members chose, the Artist Experience Tour. This included a visit to the asylum where Van Gogh spent time and painted some of his most famous paintings such as Starry Night and The Irises, the gardens where he painted, and was followed by the amazing, unique experience of Carrières de Lumières. These incredible illuminated limestone caves displayed projections of works of the Italian Renaisssance artists Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo Da Vinci, all set to music.

After lunch a walking tour of Arles was offered where members toured the Roman Amphitheatre, a smaller version of the Coliseum in Rome, and other Roman sites in the city, and enjoyed time to explore on their own. There was a cruise overview after the AmaDagio set sail for Avignon.  

The Academy group had a private dinner in the Chef’s Table restaurant in the stern of the ship where they enjoyed a special dining experience while sailing on the Rhône River. The Rhône connects the cities of Arles, Avignon, Valence, Vienne and Lyon to the Mediterranean ports of Fos, Marseille and Sète. It has been an important waterway since the times of the Greeks and Romans.

SATURDAY: Members awoke in Avignon, one of the few French cities to have preserved its ramparts. A walking tour included the historic center, the Palace of the Popes, Rocher des Doms and the Bridge of Avignon. Cruisers enjoyed free time and returned to the ship in time for lunch and an afternoon sailing to Viviers. Also offered was a morning tour of the Pont du Gard -- an ancient Roman aqueduct bridge considered a masterpiece of Roman engineering -- that crosses the Gard River. It was constructed by Romans in the 1st century A.D. and provided water to the citizens of Nimes.

After dinner the AmaDagio arrived in Viviers, a small walled city in the Renaissance style. Members could take a Ghost walk with local guides in medieval costumes or experience a “Boulangerie” Baker’s Experience in a local rustic bakery in Viviers.

SUNDAY: Morning sightseeing included an excursion to Grignan, a village perched upon a hill surrounded by lavender fields and topped by a 15th Century Renaissance castle. From the castle there was a commanding view of the surrounding countryside. Local shops sold homemade lavender soaps and other crafts of the region. There was also a visit to a local truffle farm where members watched a dog find the truffles and dig them up. Sometimes pigs are also used to find the truffles. The animals will dig up the truffle and the job of the harvester is to quickly intervene before the truffle is eaten. Truffles are a highly prized delicacy sometimes referred to as “the diamond of the kitchen.”

The AmaDagio set sail for Tournon after lunch and arrived in the evening. After dinner, entertainment was a trio of musicians named La Strada performing classical music on the guitar and violin.  

MONDAY: In the morning three tours were available, a chocolate and red wine pairing tasting by a local expert at the Castle of Tournon, a Hermitage Wine Tasting Tour at the Chapoutier winery, producer of the best Côte du Rhône, or a Steam Train des Gorges Tour. The train ride through the Gorge du Doux went to the station of Colombier le Vieux-Sanit Barthélemy le Plain where passengers watched the steam train maneuver around in preparation for its return journey.

Cruisers returned to the ship for lunch and the ship departed for Vienne for an evening arrival.  

Annual Business Meeting

At 2:30 p.m. the annual business meeting was convened aboard the AmaDagio with all members in attendance. President Tully Seymour welcomed everyone and expressed his appreciation for the good turnout and hoped everyone was having a good trip.

Upon motion by Judge Soares and second by Judge Mortimer, the minutes of the 2014 Poland, Prague and Danube River Cruise were approved as written.

The Treasurer’s Report was submitted by Judge Murphy reflecting a beginning balance of $4,804.29 as of October 1, 2014. Income derived from dues, initiation fees and scholarship donations was $4,695.34. Expenses totaled $5,182.75. The balance on hand as of October 4, 2015 was $4,316.88. Upon motion by Judge Soares, second by Judge Mortimer, the report was approved as presented.

The Membership Report was presented by CAO Diane Bowen and discussed. Three members were delinquent for 2014 and 2015 dues. Pursuant to Academy Bylaws, the members should be dropped for non-payment of dues. A suggestion by Judge Soares was made that they be dropped, however, they may be reinstated upon payment without penalty. This was approved. Four other members are delinquent on 2015 dues and there were three resignations. Members will contact those that they may know to encourage them not to let their membership lapse.

Four new members joined, and there are eight pending nominations. The nominating judges will follow up on the nominations by telephone and notify Diane if another nomination letter should be generated. The nomination process was discussed. Judge Hunt will review the nomination letter and suggest revisions if necessary. Outreach to new members was discussed. 

The Nominating Committee consisting of past-presidents of the Academy presented the following recommendations: Judge Murphy as President, Judge Mortimer as President-Elect, Judge Seymour will resume the position of Secretary-Treasurer (to facilitate banking), and Judge Hunt as Chancellor. There were no further nominations from the floor, and the nominations were deemed approved.

Judge Murphy discussed plans for a trip to Ireland for 2016. This was met with much enthusiasm. A comment was made regarding [perhaps too many] included meals on trip itineraries, and this was discussed. Judge Mortimer discussed destinations for 2017, he listed several possibilities including South America, Costa Rica, St. Lawrence waterway, Black Sea and others. Discussion was had regarding encouraging members to participate in the trips; to highlight the extra added value of court visits and private sightseeing for the Academy.

There was discussion of a reception to honor Academy founder Bill Keene. Members were reminded the gratuities for the ship personnel had been prepaid generously and no further tipping was necessary. At 4:00 p.m. the meeting was adjourned.  

Evening entertainment was French singer Adele Bracco singing in the style of Edith Piaf.

TUESDAY: In the morning there was either a Vienne Bike tour, in which Louise Jones (Godfrey) participated, or a walking tour of Vienne, including a mini-train panoramic ride to the top of Mont Pipet Hill for views of the Roman Amphitheatre and panoramic views of the Rhône Valley. Vienne is located between Burgundy and Beaujolais, it became a Roman colony in 47 B.C. under Julius Caesar. Cruisers returned for lunch onboard and the ship departed for Lyon.

In the afternoon the ship arrived in Lyon and tours were offered to the Les Halles Market, a three-mile hike to Fourviere, or a city tour by bus with stops at Fourviere Hill and the old town of Lyon called St. Jean, which has unique covered walkways known as “traboules.”

In the evening, guests enjoyed a Farewell Cocktail Party and the Captain’s Gala Dinner, followed by dancing entertainment by Paolo Nassi.  

WEDNESDAY: In the morning there was a presentation by the L’Atelier de Soierie, a local store, on silk painting and printing and a display of silk scarves and ties for sale. After lunch the ship sailed to Belleville on the Saône River. After lunch there was a Beaujolis excursion through small local villages and vineyards to enjoy spectacular scenery, a stop in the restored medieval village of Oingt, built with traditional golden stones, followed by a winery tour and tasting.

In the evening the ship sailed to Lyon again with great photo opportunities of the bridges and buildings on shore illuminated in the night. At the last night’s dinner, the Academy presented Tully a silk tie with an Eiffel Tower design on it from the L’Atelier de Soierie, as a thank you momento, and the Academy presented Diane with a silk scarf.

THURSDAY: In the morning Academy members disembarked the AmaDagio with some members flying home and some visiting other places.

Written by Diane Z. Bowen, Chief Administrative Officer

Tully Seymour
President Tully H. Seymour

Tom & Pat Murphy aboard the Train!
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