Lawyers must protect image
Should not resort to illegal means to address injustice
Lawyers should not resort to illegal means to address injustice and should avoid tarnishing the image of Chinese lawyers, a lawyer who defended many high-profile cases said Thursday.
“Some lawyers have severely damaged the image of Chinese lawyers,” said Chen Youxi, a lawyer from the Jingheng Law Firm in Hangzhou, East China’s Zhejiang Province.
Though cases of injustice exist in China’s judicial system, lawyers should never resort to illegal means, like inciting protests, sit-in demonstrations or soliciting overseas support. Their actions should always be consistent with the law, Chen told the Global Times.
He made the remarks after he denied on Thursday that government officials had assigned him to represent Wang Quanzhang, a lawyer from the Beijing-based Fengrui Law Firm who has been detained. He said he received a written request from Wang on July 12, who had sought his help.
Wang’s wife Li Wenzu said in statement on Tuesday that Chen was assigned by “officials.” Chen denied that he was assigned by officials and he considers the claim “slanderous,” insisting Wang got him involved in the case.
But Li’s statement soon triggered wide discussion within Chinese legal circles, with some defending Chen’s right to represent Wang, while others voiced concern about lawyers getting involved in human rights cases.
The Beijing News reported in July 2015 that Wang and several other lawyers from the Fengrui Law Firm, including its chief lawyer Zhou Shifeng, were detained for allegedly organizing more than 40 illicit activities disruptive of social order. The police accused the firm’s lawyers of sensationalizing cases in the name of safeguarding human rights and justice.
Zhou was convicted of subverting State power and sentenced to seven years in jail in August 2016 by the Second Intermediate People’s Court of Tianjin, the Xinhua News Agency reported. Police said Wang and others are still under investigation.
Chen said that he met with Wang on July 13 and 14 at a Tianjin detention center. The Tianjin No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court informed him of Wang’s request through the Zhejiang Provincial Department of Justice on July 10.
“Wang approved of my defense tactics during the meeting, such as whether to recommend a guilty plea,” Chen said. However, Wang did not sign the agreement to hire Chen as his lawyer, Chen said.
Chen said he has not been involved in the case since Li informed him that she had no intention to hire other lawyers to represent Wang.