中国法律博客
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standard defense lawyer tactics
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Apparently, there is a crackdown on corrupt officials and organized crime in Chongqing. Others caught up in the sting? Defense lawyers. It's like the tuna nets that end up picking up a few dolphins along the way. The only problem is this: the defense lawyer here is just doing his job. At least, he's doing his job, in my opinion, as any normal defense advocate would do here.

The details after the jump.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

On Sunday, Chongqing police detained a defense lawyer on suspicion of providing false evidence and obstruction of justice, Xinhua reports.

The lawyer, Li Zhuang, of the Beijing Kangda law firm, is one of several high-profile criminal defense lawyers brought in to represent some of the alleged top gangsters in the Chongqing crackdown, which to date has resulted in the arrests of more than 800 people. Li was representing Gong Gangmo, who faces a long list of charges including murder, leading a criminal organization, drug dealing and gun-running.

According to Xinhua, Li and several other unnamed people encouraged Gong to say that he had been tortured by police during his interrogation. Gong said that Li, who was reportedly paid 2.45 million yuan ($360,000) by Gong's family, had instructed him to say things like, "I was strung up for eight days and nights and tortured to incontinence" during their three face-to-face meetings, according to the report.

Of course, if you read the other accounts, you can tell that the views are skeptical of the lawyering that's happening here.
ESWN (h/t
CDT) translated an article, which reads in part:

In Jiangbei District, the police noted that the suspected gang leader Gong Gangmo appeared seriously vexed and taciturn after he met with his defense lawyers including Li Zhuang. On December 4, after his third meeting with Li Zhuang, Gong Gangmo was especially troubled as he sat still all day refusing food and water.

The police spoke to him many times and asked him to face the court hearings with a proper frame of mind.

After much pondering, Gong Gangmo finally could not stand the pressure within himself and pressed the bell to summon the police: "I have something important to say!"

Gong Gangmo told the case investigators about the secret that has been tormenting him for days: His wife had just hired the lawyers Li Zhuang and Ma Xiaojun from the Kangda Law Firm in Beijing. During three meetings between Gong and the lawyers, Li Zhuang taught him five tricks to "overturn the case": The first trick was to corroborate the false testimony of his wife so that he turned from "gang boss" to "victim" and "charitable citizen." The second trick was to claim falsely to the court that his confession had been extracted by torture and therefore he was recanting his previous statements. The third trick was to provide false testimony to the court so that his case can be reversed. The fourth trick was for the lawyers to read to him the statements made by his co-defendants so that he would know what to say. The fifth trick was to disrupt the court proceedings by insisting on a medical examination of his injuries so that the trial had to be postponed until a later date.

So basically, we have a gang boss saying that he can't override his conscience because of the wicked and terrible things that his lawyers are trying to do. I call BS on this. This is garbage propaganda that will make defense lawyers unable to do their jobs effectively if you ask me. Why? Because these are standard things.

The first "trick" of trying to pain the defendant as a charitable citizen instead of a crime boss? Standard fare. You always do this. It's not a matter of lying–it's a matter of humanizing someone who is viewed upon with suspicion. And if you ask me, there's nothing wrong with it. So you call the wife to the stand and have her say good things about her husband. What's wrong with that? Nothing. A competent judge or jury will be able to weigh the credibility of such testimony. Usually it doesn't work since people aren't stupid, but you know what? If you're a defense lawyer and you are not trying to gain sympathy for your client, you aren't doing your job.

The second "trick" of trying to call any confession something that was given under duress/torture/whatever you want to call this process of abuse of power? Also fairly standard fare. At least it is in America… because if you're the police, you aren't supposed to try to pull this sort of abuse. And if you are in China and the police, I'm dead sure you're pulling these tricks on a regular basis. The article implicitly paints the police in a positive light… and the writer of the article would probably say that the police gained a confession without any coercion and didn't abuse anyone. Yeah right. So what's a good defense lawyer to do? Call a confession one that was obtained under duress. And if you didn't, again, you aren't doing your job.

The third "trick"? Okay, this is going a bit far… and yet, I wonder what the nature of this "false" evidence is. Is it really false evidence? Or is it evidence that's meant to counter certain claims or paint the same facts in a different light? Not really a big deal if you ask me. I'm not advocating the falsification of evidence. But I am saying that any defense lawyer worth his salt is going to (1) go after the evidence like a shark and (2) try to introduce evidence that appears to go the other way in favor of the defendant.

The fourth "trick" is not all that out of the norm either. Know what your co-defendants are going to say so you know what to say? Standard. Any good lawyer will try to work with co-defendants to make a case as air tight as possible. At least, collaborate in a way that you aren't selling your own client down the river.

And the last "trick" of trying to delay trial? Everyone does this. Not just criminal attorneys. Even in civil litigation, everyone is trying to buy more time and avoid trial. Any good attorney should be doing this to some degree to buy more time and wear out the other side. Or you aren't doing your job.

So of these five "tricks", only one is truly questionable. The rest? It's anti-lawyer propaganda meant to discourage real lawyering. Who is the judge and jury? It's not the public. It's the judge and jury. Simple. So while everyone acts like this stuff is such a big deal, let me just say that it isn't. That's the point of an adversarial trial process.

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