Make me your Homepage
left corner left corner
China Daily Website

Reporter's log: Rape case lawyers overstep the mark

Updated: 2013-08-29 01:35
By Cao Yin ( China Daily)

Standing outside the court gate on Wednesday morning among hundreds of reporters on the scene to report the high-profile rape case, I kept asking myself what the role of lawyers should be before or during such a trial.

Instead of a normal court hearing, the trial on Wednesday appeared more like a scripted drama. Hundreds of reporters waited outside the court despite the rain, in the hope of learning "shocking" information about the case, which involves well-known military singer Li Shuangjiang's son, who allegedly gang-raped a woman with another four men in February.

The case was not a public hearing due to it involving minors, whose privacy must be protected under law, but many details had been exposed by the lawyers before the trial.

Lawyers of all five suspects and the woman's attorney sparked massive debate on the Internet before the trial, making the case confused and arousing doubts in onlookers and even judicial experts.

Wu Ming'an, a law professor with the China University of Political Sciences and Law, said it was a pity to see such a "performance" by the attorneys.

"It can be understood that the involved parties freely spoke their opinions, but it's not professional or sensible to see lawyers do the same," Wu said. "Instead, the attorneys should guide and persuade their clients to calm down, especially for such a non-public and sensitive case."

China has no clear rule to regulate lawyers' behavior before trials, "but it should be general knowledge that the attorneys involved cannot leak too many details, particularly in a case that involves minors", Wu added.

Yi Shenghua, a lawyer who has been following the case, said it does more harm than good to both parties involved for such detailed information to be exposed before the trial.

"Lawyers should handle their work in a legal framework, or with principle, but Li's case has become a ‘war of words' before the start of the trial," he said, adding that he was sorry to see a serious case turned into a farce.

"It's OK for lawyers to speak, but what is said must be reasonable and legal. Although judgments should not be affected by public opinion, it's hard for them not to be," he said, suggesting judicial authorities should speak out if the case proceeds wrongly.

Trials must be conducted based on evidence and in line with procedures, while lawyers should safeguard their clients' rights instead of adding fuel to the flames, Yi said.

A verdict on the case will be handed down soon and it is expected to become a hotter issue for the public at that time.

In my eyes, the most important aspect of the case, to a large extent, lies in how to ensure lawyers do their work more professionally and reasonably.

Similar cases will not stop, and neither should our consideration of relevant laws and other related questions.

Hot Topics
A sailor from British Royal Navy destroyer HMS Daring tries to catch a mooring line to dock in the north side of the bund at Huangpu River in Shanghai December 10, 2013.