New notice defines lawyers' rights in court

Updated 2018-04-25 09:50:02

Supreme court, ministry release document outlining correct trial practice

A lawyer's behavior and fundamental rights in court have been outlined in a notice issued by the country's top court and justice ministry, according to a statement sent to the Global Times on Tuesday.

The notice from China's Supreme People's Court and the Ministry of Justice implicitly stipulates that courts at all levels and all their staff members including judges must respect and protect the rights of legal professionals, the statement read.

The notice bans a lawyer from disrupting trials "in the name of safeguarding rights."

If he or she thinks a judge violates his or her interest, instead of releasing open letters or issuing statements to the media, the lawyer can report the judge to a higher level people's court or supervisory department.

The results would be sent back to the lawyer involved, local justice departments and lawyer associations.

Lawyers cannot conduct vocal- or visual-recording activities in court.

They are not allowed to take pictures or use other communication devices to air the hearing, according to the document.

Judges cannot interrupt or prevent lawyers asking their questions, cross-examining or making defense speeches.

In principle, the court should not order lawyers to leave or forcibly expel them, the document mentions.

"The ability to protect lawyers' practice [in court] is not only a matter for the legal profession but also the litigants' rights are safeguarded," Xiong Xuanguo, vice minister of justice noted during an opening speech at a seminar held in Xiamen, East China's Fujian Province on Monday and Tuesday, the statement reported.

"This directly affects the realization of judicial fairness, manifesting in the country's level of rule of law," he said.

More than 150 provincial- and city-level justice department officials and lawyers' association directors from across the country attended the seminar.

Xiong also stressed that to regulate lawyers' activity with clear standards was to the advantage of fostering the masses' faith in the rule of law as well as people's confidence in social justice and fairness.

The Ministry of Justice confirmed in February that the licenses of some human rights lawyers have been revoked for interfering in the judicial process by hyping cases using social media.

"I support the judicial regulators' drive to punish lawyers who violated laws and regulations," Chen Youxi, a lawyer from the Jingheng law firm in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province, previously told the Global Times.

"There are some unqualified lawyers who want to gain fame and hype their cases through illegal means. This behavior disturbs social order and hurts the image of the lawyer group."

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