CHINA CLARIFIES DEFENCE LAWYERS' ROLE IN CAPITAL CASES
May 22, 2008: China's Supreme Court and Ministry of Justice jointly issued regulations on the protection of defence lawyers' roles in capital cases to ensure that defendants' legal rights were upheld.
"This is another important regulatory document since the Supreme People's Court took
back the power of death penalty reviews," an official with the Supreme Court said. The regulations build upon existing documents on defence lawyers' work in capital cases. They also standardize the lawyers' duties, the official said. Some provisions of the regulations include:
- Legal aid institutions must designate lawyers with criminal defence experience in capital cases.
- Lawyers shall not transfer such cases to assistants and must meet the defendant before trial.
- Judges must "earnestly listen" to lawyers' suggestions, ensure that lawyers are able to complete their presentations, and explain why defence lawyers' motions are honoured or denied.
- Court must inform "interested parties," lawyers and prosecutors of any date change for court hearings three days ahead of time.
- Court must notify lawyers if prosecutors submit new evidence or re-evaluate the case before the second court session.
The regulations also improve the death penalty review procedures. For example, they stipulate that if a defence lawyer submits any motions or evidential documents during such a review, the relevant court must formally receive and record them. (Sources: Chinaview.cn, 22/05/2008)