The man, who was being held in the eastern town of Nancy, could not legally be held beyond Tuesday evening.
The problems stemmed from a change in the organization of prisoner transfers.
From Monday, prison authorities have taken over responsibility for transfers from police in the eastern Lorraine and Auvergne regions. According to local newspaper Le Républicain Lorrain, eight people are expected to carry out the work done by 20 to 30 officers in the past.
Faced with the staff problems, judges asked police to escort the 35-year-old suspect to the court room on Tuesday but were turned down, according to court president Marie-Agnès Crédoz.
The man was part of a group facing charges of drug dealing. When he didn't arrive in court, judges had no choice but to release him.
The case has been postponed until October 6th.