Claire Josserand-Schmidt, the discreet and insatiable lawyer in the trial of the November 13 attacks

If there had not been, this afternoon at the end of March, this incredible dialogue with Salah Abdeslam, the main defendant in the trial of the attacks of November 13, 2015, some might not have noticed her, lost like so many others in the swarm of civil party lawyers constituted in this trial. Because Claire Josserand-Schmidt is the discreet type. “I’m not very interesting”, she apologizes, in the preamble to our meeting. If only.

Josserand-Schmidt is one of the most capped black dresses in this trial in Islamist terrorism cases. Experience audiences, first of all. From the end of 2015, she became the lawyer for Bataclan victims. Then, very quickly, one of the representatives in the courtrooms of the French association of victims of terrorism (AFVT). As such, it has multiplied the trials of terrorist networks. That said of “Cannes-Torcy”, in 2017. Those of the jihadist sectors of Nîmes, Lunel. Over the course of these hearings, she dissected, analyzed and dissected the springs of Islamist terrorism.

Trial of Islamic State cadre Tyler Vilus, trial of the Notre Dame gas canister bombing. But Claire Josserand-Schmidt is not content with the benches of the courthouse to understand this matter. “I wanted to shield my expertise.” So mother of two young children – they are now 8 and 10 years old – she also uses the benches of the Sorbonne and follows, for a year, a specialization in the repair of bodily injury. “I went to evening classes, I made notes at the cafe, like when I was a student, I took my written exams, my big oral. I led a quadruple life.”

A clear path

Because she is like that, Claire Josserand-Schmidt. Of the type to want that “everything is completely shielded, checked”. Trial of the attack on the Champs-Elysées, trial of Reda Kriket. The type to draw up lists too. Those of the thousand things she still intends to do in this life. A life that his father and his upbringing “hard” had initially drawn for her and her four other children. “We had to excel, when we came home with an 18/20, he asked us where the two missing points had gone. We had to play music too. Eight years of harp. She would have preferred the piano. It was necessary “get a social position“, Again. His elders became “dental surgeon, doctor, financial director“.

She, as a good little last, first tried to “stray from the road”, passed the first stage of admission to the Boulle school. But “in my family, making art was not on the shelves”. So she went back to law. And to this profession of criminal lawyer which made her dream when, as a child, she watched the series “The Iron Man” and its stories of lost causes. So that would be the law. Criminal. “During my studies, I was made to understand that it was going to be complicated to become a criminal lawyer for a woman, that made me redouble my motivation.She took the oath in February 2001 and imposed herself in this very masculine worlddespite my Anemone voice”, she smiles. “Maybe I was just being a little more of a cowboy than I deeply am.” In fact, long graying hair, small size and soothing smile, the lawyer does not really look like a tough guy.

There was a lot of sweetness in his voice, this Wednesday, March 30. For hours, Salah Abdeslam refused to answer questions and even to look at the person who asked them. And then it was her turn.Mr. Abdeslam, we have a small problem all the same. Because you promised me an answer last time.“The attempt is a hit. Behind his mask, we guess the smile of the main defendant. Contact is established. Salah Abdeslam abandons his silence. And will accept, until the end of the trial, to deliver his explanations on the facts. “Why is he answering me that day? Not because we’re friends. But because he understood that I will listen to him.“And then, she adds, “Salah Abdeslam is one of the defendants who have greeted me since the start of the trial”. On the benches of the lawyers, some congratulate her, while others reproach her for having bowed to the jihadist.When I sat down again, I started to receive lots of messages. I just wanted to hide under the bench. And when I understood that I was going to have my name in the newspaper, I wanted to disappear.

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A thousand strings to his harp

She stayed after all. And continued to make his special contribution to this trial. Trial of the January 2015 attacks. Trial of the Villejuif network. If the last few years have logically led to this historic trial of the attacks of November 13, 2015, the previous ones have been much less linear. Or even totally extravagant. A drama, first of all. Her mother’s illness: a cancer against which she will fight, for six years. And who will end up winning, too young. Claire Josserand-Schmidt, she begins to draw up her lists “because we really only have one life”. At the very top is written “Byzantine mosaic course“. His dream.

So she drops everything, goes on leave from the bar, joins Italy and the studio of one of the greatest artists in the discipline. Now one of her best friends. “Travels” also appearing in a good position on the list, Claire Josserand-Schmidt becomes an air hostess and connects, for Air France, for two years, all the capitals of Europe in medium and then in long haul. A tenor from the bar, crossed one day at the bend of an exotic stopover, will not recognize her. “Unless he pretended not to?“, smiles the lawyer mischievously. Next will come the manufacture of jewelry. And then, “at some point, I felt that I had satisfied my need to come up against the rough edges of life”.

Claire Josserand-Schmidt puts on the dress again, resumes from the “Master” and the way to the assizes. Without giving up the lists of his desires. She went to the piano, after all. Play daily”to disconnect”. Runs regularly, swims occasionally. “And I scuba dive whenever I can”, another of his passions. Devouring to the point “to have spent fortunes for her”, recognizes the criminal lawyer. “If I don’t own my home today, it’s because of scuba diving.”

In short, Claire Josserand-Schmidt ultimately has only one regret: she is approaching fifty and her days are still only 24 hours long. Especially since in addition to the rest, she would like “be a super wife, a super mom, the friend of the century, the great sister, the boss everyone loves, the lawyer everyone loves”. But for all this, she has not yet found the magic formula. “Abracadabra”, sing the Eagles of Death Metal in one of their titles. Claire Josserand-Schmidt is also their lawyer.

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