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I posted this a couple of weeks ago but I suspect everyone was still on holiday. I'm looking for the correct term for the  judge who decides whether there is enough evidence to mount a prosecution, the equivalent of the US District Attorney. I think it is Juge d'Instruction. Am I correct?

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I think the word you're looking for is procureur, which is a generic term for "public prosecutor", covering things like a US "State Attorney", what in the UK we would usually call the "CPS" (Crown Prosecution Service) etc.

For specifically a District Attorney, I think you could just say e.g. procureur local or procureur du comté.
Thank you so much. It's easy to make mistakes when searching a dictionary as that gives the transation but not always the usage. And though I know France, so far I haven't broken laws and come into direct contact with legal authorities. Much obliged...Joannah
Not so fast! I have some reason to believe that Joannah's definition does describe a Juge d'Instruction. Neil, what do you think a Juge d'Instruction is?
I think you're both right. The juge d'instruction mounts an independent and impartial investigation to determine whether a case can be brought and passes all the information to the procureur who actually brings the prosecution. A judge has to be impartial until evidence is presented whereas a prosecuter has an accusatory function. That's if I have read the highlighted article correctly. Thank you for the link, it's very helpful. I'm writing a novel set partly in France and I do like to get it right (otherwise you get letters of correction and publishers don't like that)
Well, juges d'instructions are usually described as "examining magistrates" in English (though I'm not sure there's the equivalent in either the UK or US legal system). There's a Wikipedia entry here that explains a little bit:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inquisitorial_system

I think if you're looking for the translation of "District Attorney", then procureur (local) is the appropriate translation. I notice that Dahl's Law Dictionary also suggests procureur général. In any case, I think it's a different thing to an examining magistrate. (Surprisingly, Dahl doesn't list juge d'instruction.)

P.S. I should stress I'm not a legal expert as such (though I am a professional translator and so have some dealings with legal texts).
Thank you again for this link. It will be the Juge d'Instruction in that he is investigating a possible murder but one where the exact facts are not clear. Both links suggested were great and I thank you and Stu Harris for taking the time to answer.
Joannah

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