Since January 10, Patrick Huard fans have been able to see him back in action on the Club illico original series Les Honorables, ten years after Taxi 0-22. Jacques Diamant wrote the screenplay and he’s also a real-life crown prosecutor. We met up with him to talk about justice.

Where did the idea for this drama come from?
After my experience writing shows like Toute la Vérité and Ruptures, I wanted to continue exploring the issues raised by our justice system. I’m very comfortable depicting this environment because it’s one I’ve been involved with professionally for many years as a crown prosecutor.

Why did you want to write this show?
I believe that people are interested in the justice system, in life and in fiction. There are always compelling—and often, deeply human—issues involved. I also think that anyone can find themselves involved in the system, either as a witness or, most unfortunately, as a victim or defendant. I’ve always thought that what happens in the courtroom is a kind of mirror of our society.

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How did you want to depict the justice system on screen?
As realistically as possible. By trying to depict the role of each player in the system as accurately as I could—judges, lawyers, expert witnesses, police investigators, etc. Each has a very specific part to play. I was also careful to be as accurate as possible about criminal procedure. I’ve often seen shows that don’t reflect what really happens inside the courtroom. That can make you lose interest in the story. Things like lawyers who argue opinions instead of evidence, who ask their witness a single question and answer for them, and so on.

Did you want to show the shortcomings of the justice system?
That’s a very good question. The answer is no. What I really wanted to do was highlight the cold hard reality of a verdict and its aftermath. At the end of a trial, there must be a winner and a loser. In a trial, there are two opposing theories. It’s an adversarial system and the confrontation can be quite fierce, especially in serious cases. The conclusion, the verdict, is always a climax and a dramatic moment that will affect the lives of all parties, whether that’s the defendant or, in this case, the victim’s family. This type of intimate portrait of a case is what I really wanted to draw. Les Honorables gives us a window on the aftermath of the verdict and the impact that a jury’s decision has on an entire family.

What do you hope people watching at home will get out of the show?
There is a saying dura lex sed lex — “The law is harsh but it is the law.” Les Honorables turns the spotlight on a family that experiences this fact in a tragic way. I hope what people will take away from this story is that our system of justice is an edifice that has been painstakingly erected over the course of centuries. It’s not perfect but despite its failings it is still our best protection against the abuses that could threaten our democracy. In fact, our justice system is one of the pillars of our democracy. It is inevitable that there will be dissatisfaction with some verdicts but that doesn’t diminish the importance of preserving the integrity of our legal system. Would the parallel justice that some advocate yield better results? I am convinced it wouldn’t.

The justice system can be complex. How did you get that across in a believable way in the show?
By trying to reflect the law as it is. For example, the police can gather a good deal of evidence against someone and still not be able to convince the prosecutor to press charges. If the prosecutor does proceed, he must then convince the judge. This is a long road strewn with obstacles and rules that must be followed, but I wanted to put all that on the screen in order to show the complexity of our legal system. Some of the issues raised in the show could be argued in the courts. They are real questions of law.

What do you think this show brings to Québec’s TV landscape?
Personally, I am so proud of the work of our director, the artists, the crew and the actors who brought Les Honorables to life. Nothing was left to chance. Because of that, the series is able to bear witness to the human side of justice, in addition to showing how the system works. The story is told by actors at the top of their game, producing very powerful scenes. And in all humility, it’s just a beautiful show to watch.

Why did you decide to feature a family that works in the justice system – both the parents and the sister of the victim?
By constructing the plot around a family of legal professionals, I wanted to intensify the emotional impact of Tristan Rabeau’s acquittal. The shock is even greater: Justice was the Dessureaux family’s bread and butter, and they are betrayed by their own system—their creature in a way—and it will shake them to their core.

Another reason we made this decision was to delve into the “post-verdict” issues. The Dessureaux family understands legal rules and criminal procedure. That puts them in a good position to criticize and analyze them, even to use them to try to change the course of events, legally or otherwise. In addition to their very human reactions to the tragic events in which they are caught up, I wanted my characters to have access to all available tools for contesting a verdict that, in their eyes, is unacceptable.

How was Ludovic and Lucie’s relationship affected by their daughter’s murder and the subsequent trial?
I can’t imagine a pain worse than that of parents who lose a child, and even more so when it’s because of a crime. Whether they want to or not, Ludovic and Lucie will have to learn to live with this awful reality. Even though they separated not long before their daughter’s death, they may feel the need to support each other through this tragedy. They may also disagree about what to do after the verdict. But either way, we can’t imagine that they could deal with the aftermath of the trial on their own, without each other.

Which movies and TV series inspired you? Which legal or revenge movies?
I’m inspired by different sources. I’m drawn to works that depict and follow a specific character, exploring their contradictions and inner struggles. It will come as no surprise that I’m a Woody Allen fan. As for TV, I really liked True Detective starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey.

Did you decide to steer clear of certain sensitive topics?
No. It’s all a question of the angle. You’ll find that Les Honorables explores many sensitive topics.

Are there real-life legal stories that inspired you when writing the screenplay?
Of course. I couldn’t point to one in particular, but the show is built on elements from different cases that made the news. Everything in the show is drawn from real life: defendants’ personalities, tricky legal situations, convoluted police investigations, unpopular verdicts.

Tell us about working with Patrick Huard. How did the fact that he also plays the main character nourish your writing?
Patrick grasped the moral dilemma tearing at Ludovic’s character completely. As a sharp and dedicated jurist, our judge takes a huge fall when the jury comes back with a not-guilty verdict for his daughter’s killer. Patrick gave a nuanced performance that captured a broken father’s bewilderment, and also his need to move on and fight on behalf of his daughter. This was a major inspiration for me in putting the show’s ten episodes together. The interplay between him and Lucie (Macha Grenon) is fascinating.

In addition to the main storyline, what topics did you want to tackle in this show?
The things that we hide, the secrets we think we can conceal forever but which come back and explode in our face years later. The impact of our actions, how they affect the future. We’ll see that every decision the Dessureaux make will have repercussions. Everything has a consequence.

Did you consider making Les Honorables as a feature film? What constraints does the television series format put on your writing?
No, from the beginning I wanted to write a series with an end date: one big story that comes to a conclusion, told in several episodes, with a mystery that deepens from one episode to the next. Of course, we had to adapt to certain constraints, but I would imagine that’s the case with any format.

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