Dancing Handcuffed in the Minefield: Survival Strategies of Defense Lawyers in China's Criminal Justice System

40 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2008  

Sida Liu

University of Toronto; American Bar Foundation

Terence C. Halliday

American Bar Foundation

Date Written: May 14, 2008

Abstract

The tremendous difficulties that Chinese criminal defense lawyers face in their dialy work have been well documented by researchers in China and abroad. However, few studies have examined the coping strategies and collective action of defense lawyers in relation to powerful state actors (i.e., the police, procuracy, and court) in the criminal justice system. Based on over 50 in-depth interviews in five major cities and extensive archival research, this paper discusses the twisted and precarious legal practice of Chinese criminal defense lawyers in relation to the state criminal justice system. On the one hand, lawyers challenge arbitrary state power by defending the rights of hte accused in the criminal procedure; on the other hand, they have to rely on the state and judicial agencies to get business and protect themselves from persecution. This partially dependent lawyer-state relationship highly constrains the professional autonomy and mobilizing capacity of Chinese lawyers and significantly weakens their structural position in the criminal justice system. Their ambiguous position in the state system on social control also renders problematic their capacity for protection of basic legal freedoms of citizens.

Suggested Citation

Liu, Sida and Halliday, Terence C., Dancing Handcuffed in the Minefield: Survival Strategies of Defense Lawyers in China's Criminal Justice System (May 14, 2008). Center on Law and Globalization Research Paper No. 08-04. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1269536 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1269536

Sida Liu (Contact Author)

University of Toronto ( email )

725 Spadina Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2J4
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://sidaliu.net

American Bar Foundation ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sidaliu.net

Terence C. Halliday

American Bar Foundation ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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