jaxen 1.1.3 artifacts deployed in maven central has some wrong dependencies defined in its pom (some maven-plugins - cobertura, findbugs - with an erroneous type "plugin"). Because of that using jdom 1.1.3 by default with maven doesn't work. Either you could provide in central a 1.1.4 with an exclusion of these wrong dependencies or upgrade your jaxen version, the 1.1.4 fixed the issue.
This is the current fix that a maven user is required to do to use jdom 1.1.3.
There are currently no bugs open against 1.1.x versions of JDOM. I understand that this is a usability problem, but I am not inclined to create a whole new version of JDOM unless there is an issue with the actual JDOM code.
I will leave this issue open, and if/when an 1.1.x issue is identified (and a migration path to 2.x is not an option), then this (or whatever appropriate) fix can be applied.
I agree. The goal of my issue was at least to have it referenced here if someone else meet the problem.