OpenPoLaw, Opener of Potential law.

Creation of the legal concept of ghost : it is « something » which does nots exist anymore but which has still a legal effect, for example, ghost border (in Poland dating from before the 2nd World war); ghost amendement in the US constitution ; Ghost arm ; etc.

During one of our research dinner, Shaheeza Lalani, Phd and lawyer in Swizterland coming from Canada told us a ghost story  :

The ghost of “la mule noire”,

I was recently at a Conference dinner hosted by the University of Paris – Panthéon-Sorbonne and someone asked me how I came to live in France. As I started telling the story of how I was an exchange student at the ‘Fac’ de lettres’ in Aix-en-Provence, I ventured onto a tangent and into the story of my adventurous year abroad.

The year began with the administrative headache of trying to get a ‘carte de séjour’. With my classmate/ roommate from Canada who had come on exchange with me, we spent countless hours between the University Registrar’s Office and the ‘Préfecture’ convincing the French administration that we could not get proof of registration at the University without a ‘carte de séjour’ and vice versa: we could not get the ‘carte de séjour’ without proof of registration at the University.

When we finally understood that we could get a ‘carte de séjour’ if we successfully found an apartment and provided the ‘Préfecture’ with a copy of our rental agreement, or ‘bail à loyer’, we picked one of the first apartments we found and settled for a room for two at the end of the Cours Mirabeau with a low rent of 800 French Francs a month each.

When we finally went, with ‘bail à loyer’ in hand, to the ‘Préfecture’, we were greeted by a nice French administrative officer who prepared the paperwork for our ‘carte de séjour’. Staring wide-eyed at the address on our ‘bail à loyer’, he proceeded to read it aloud: ‘4 Rue de la Mule Noire? Mais, les filles, c’est hanté!’

Of course, two well-educated 21-year-old students from Canada were not about to believe this French administrative officer who was probably trying to scare us back to Canada…right? Well, that night, when we went to sleep, my roommate in her single bed on one side of our inexpensive but lovely apartment and I on the other, both heard the cackle of a witch.

Suddenly waking up from my sleep, I asked my roommate, ‘was that you?’ and she responded ‘no, I thought it was you!’. We turned the lights on, saw nothing, walked around the apartment and tried to go back to sleep, but within the hour, the cackling began again!!!

The following day in class, we were both falling asleep when our Professor erupted: ‘Mesdames, si vous voulez dormir, restez chez vous!’ I tried to explain that it was jetlag (‘décalage horaire’) but when the yawning recurred, I finished by telling the Professor that we had a witch in our apartment. Though our classmates’ laughter was uncontrollable and my roommate gave me a good kick under our desk, I proceeded to explain that the cackling was relentless and was keeping us up all night.

The Professor then calmly asked us for our address and when I said, ‘4 Rue de la Mule Noire’, she immediately provided a detailed description of an adjacent apartment from which a woman in our apartment had been assassinated several years earlier. My roommate was taken aback: the Professor believed us! In fact, she wanted to come over to hear the cackling herself!

Soon, we were hearing stories all around Aix-en-Provence about how our apartment was haunted. Some said it was because Hitler’s Schutzstaffel had its headquarters in the building during the Second World War; some said it was because of a suicide. All we knew was that the cackling was keeping us up all night and the door to our apartment mysteriously had seven locks.

One night when the cackling turned into loud noises at the door, we didn’t hesitate to call the police, who came within minutes of our call. After they mockingly asked, ‘vous avez eu peur ?’, the noises started again and the two officers drew their guns. They kicked open the doors to the living room, the kitchen and the bathroom, but there was no sign of anything making the noises that we were all hearing.

For the entire year of our exchange to Aix-en-Provence, my roommate and I swore not to leave each other alone in the apartment. Even though we got sick of each other at times, we stuck together until the day her parents planned a trip to Paris.

Finding myself alone for an entire week, I looked for the cutest student to bring home with me after class and successfully convinced a relatively handsome one to sleep over in my roommate’s bed on the opposite side of the room! This was, of course, not what he had in mind, and although he began the night wanting to share my bed for other reasons, he ended the night wanting to share my bed out of fear of the cackling ‘sorcière’.

We eventually got used to ‘la sorcière’ and even invited people over to hear her. Since few had internet at the time, detailed research about her was not possible, but we heard story after story about her possible origin from the locals. During our final days in Aix-en-Provence, when the ‘femme de ménage’ asked us for water to mop the common stairwell, we happily let her in only to find that the woman who usually gave her water to clean the stairs and who was supposed to have died a week earlier, was standing contently in front of her apartment.

Needless to say, we left the region suspecting the cleaning lady of the cackling, but the mystery, for us, was left unresolved.

See Fantôme, OpenPoLaw,,