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CORSE

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Originally appearing in Volume V10, Page 791 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CORSE (CORSICA) Ajaccio Corse. Before I790 France was divided into thirty-three great and seven small military governments, often called provinces, which are, however, to be distinguished from the provinces formed under the feudal system. The great governments were: Alsace, Saintonge and Angoumois, Anjou, Artois, Aunis, Auvergne, Beam and Navarre, Berry, Bourbonnais, Bourgogne (Burgundy), Bretagne (Brittany), Champagne, Dauphine, Flandre, Foix, Franche-Comte, Guienne and Gascogne (Gascony), Ile-de-France, Languedoc, Limousin, Lorraine, Lyonnais, Maine, Marche, Nivernais, Normandie, Orleanais, Picardie, Poitou, Provence, Roussillon, Touraine and Corse. The eight small governments were: Paris, Boulogne and Boulonnais, Le Havre, Sedan, Toulois, Pays Messin and Verdunois and Saumurois. At the head of each department is a prefect, a political official nominated by the minister of the interior and appointed by the president, who acts as general agent of the government and representative of the central authority. To aid him the prefect has a general secretary and an advisory body (conseil de prefecture), the members of which are appointed by the president, which has jurisdiction in certain classes of disputes arising out of administration and must, in certain cases, be consulted, though the prefect is not compelled to follow its advice. The prefect supervises the execution of the laws; has wide authority in regard to policing, public hygiene and relief of pauper children; has the nomination of various subordinate officials; and is in correspondence with the subordinate functionaries in his department, to whom he transmits the orders and instructions of the government. Although the management of local affairs is in the hands of the prefect his power with regard to these is checked by a deliberative body known as the general council (conseil general). This council, which consists for the most part of business and professional men, is elected by universal suffrage, each canton in the department contributing one member. The general council controls the departmental administration of the prefect, and its decisions on points of local government are usually final. It assigns its quota of taxes (contingent) to each arrondissement, authorizes the sale, purchase or exchange of departmental property, superintends the management thereof, authorizes the construction of new roads, railways or canals, and advises on matters of local interest. Political questions are rigorously excluded from its deliberations. The general council, when not sitting, is represented by a permanent delegation (commission departementale). As the prefect in the department, so the sub-prefect in the arrondissement, though with a more limited power, is the representative of the central authority. He is assisted, and in some degree controlled, in his work by the district council (conseil d'arrondissement), to which each canton sends a member, chosen by universal suffrage. As the arrondissement has neither property nor budget, the principal business of the council is to allot to each commune its share of the direct taxes imposed on the arrondissement by the general council. The canton is purely an administrative division, containingy on an average, about twelve communes, though some exceptional communes are big enough to contain more than one canton. It is the seat of a justice of the peace, and is the electoral unit for the general council and the district council. The communes, varying greatly in area and population, are the 'administrative units in France. The chief magistrate of the commune is the mayor (maire), who is (I) the agent of the central government and charged as such with the local promulgation and execution of the general laws and decrees of the country; (2) the executive head of the municipality, in which capacity he supervises the police, the revenue and public works of the commune, and acts as the representative of the corporation in general. He also acts as registrar of births, deaths and marriages, and officiates at civil marriages. Mayors are usually assisted by deputies (adjoints). In a commune of 2500 inhabitants or less there is one deputy; in more populous communes there may be more, but in no case must the number exceed twelve, except at Lyons, where as many as seventeen are allowed. Both mayors and deputy mayors are elected by and from among members of the municipal council for four years. This body consists, according to the population of the commune, of from to to 36 members, elected for four years on the principle of the scrutin de liste by Frenchmen who have reached the age of twenty-one years and have a six months' residence qualification. The local affairs of the commune are decided by the municipal council, and its decisions become operative after the expiration of a month, save in matters which involve interests transcending those of the commune. In such cases the prefect must approve them, and in some cases the sanction of the general council or even ratification by the president is necessary. The council also chooses communal delegates to elect senators; and draws up the list of repartiteurs, whose function is to settle how the commune's share of direct taxes shall be allotted among the taxpayers. The sub-prefect then selects from this list ten of whom he approves for the post. The meetings of the council are open to the public. Justice. The ordinary judicial system of France comprises two classes of courts: (I) civil and criminal, (2) special, including courts dealing only with purely commercial cases; in addition there are the administrative courts, including bodies, the Conseil d'Etat and the Conseils de Prefecture, which deal, in their judicial capacity, with cases coming under the droit administratif. Mention may also be made of the Tribunal des Conflits, a special court whose function it is to decide which is the competent tribunal when an administration and a judicial court both claim or refuse to deal with a given case. Taking the first class of courts, which have both civil and criminal jurisdiction, the lowest tribunal in the system is that of the juge de paix. In each canton is a juge de paix, who in his capacity as a civil judge takes cognizance, without appeal, of disputes where the amount sought to be recovered does not exceed £I2 in value. Where the amount exceeds £I2 but not £24 an appeal lies from his decision to the court of first instance. In some particular cases where special promptitude or local knowledge is necessary, as disputes between hotelkeepers and travellers, and the like, he has jurisdiction (subject to appeal to the court of first instance) up to £6o. He has also a criminal jurisdiction in contraventions, i.e. breaches of law punishable by a fine not exceeding I 2S. or by imprisonment not exceeding five days. If the sentence be one of imprisonment or the fine exceeds 4s., appeal lies to the court of first instance. It is an important function of the juge de paix to endeavour to reconcile disputants who come before him, and no suit can be brought before the court of first instance until he has endeavoured without success to bring the parties to an agreement. Tribunaux de premiere instance, also called tribunaux d'arrondissement, of which there is one in every arrondissement (with few exceptions), besides serving as courts of appeal from the juges de paix have an original jurisdiction in matters civil and criminal. The court consists of a president, one or more vice-presidents and a variable number of judges. A procureur, or public prosecutor, is also attached to each court. In civil matters the tribunal takes cognizance of actions relating to personal property to the value of £6o, and actions relating to land to the value of 6o fr. (£2: 8s.) per annum. When it deals with matters involving larger sums an appeal lies to the courts of appeal. In penal cases its jurisdiction extends to all offences of the class known as Mils—offences punishable by a more serious penalty than the " contraventions " dealt with by the juge de paix, but not entailing such heavy penalties as the code applies to crimes, with which the assize courts (see below) deal. When sitting in its capacity as a criminal court it is known as the tribunal correctionnel. Its judgments are in-variably subject in these matters to appeal before the court of appeal. There are twenty-six courts of appeal (tours d'Appel), to each of which are attached from one to five departments. Cours d'Appel. Departments depending on them.
End of Article: CORSE
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