Human Rights Lawyering in Chinese Courtrooms
The Chinese Journal of Comparative Law (2014) Vol. 2 No. 2 pp. 270-288
19 Pages Posted: 4 May 2015 Last revised: 15 May 2015
Date Written: May 3, 2015
Human rights lawyering in China can be categorized into three ideal types: moderate lawyering, critical lawyering and radical lawyering. Lawyers take corresponding political stance and use different strategies in their legal representation. This article uses three examples to illustrate the different types of lawyering and the degree to which the lawyers rely on law in the legal battles. In particular, this article examines the different type of interaction between lawyers and judges: 1) a moderate type in which lawyers rely on law to make a confined and technical legal argument strictly within the boundaries of law; 2) a critical type in which lawyers use law proactively and strategically to influence public opinions and the political process so as to shape judicial decisions to a particular direction; and 3) a radical type in which lawyers challenge law and use the case to advocate a larger legal or policy change. The three cases are the defence of Xia Junfeng in his murder trial; the defence of Falun Gong practitioners who are charged with various criminal offences; and the legal support for labour activists in China who are punished for organizing industrial action.
Keywords: human rights lawyering, courts, authoritarian state, criminal justice
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