Sida Liu and Terence C. Halliday spent ten years interviewing criminal defense attorneys throughout China in order to compile the evidence on the professional lives of criminal defense attorneys in the one-party authoritarian state that is modern China. They present what they found in Criminal Defense in China: The Politics of Lawyers at Work (Cambridge University Press, 2016)
In this interview with co-author Sida Liu, we discuss the extreme difficulties faced in daily work by attorneys. From the Communists victory in 1949 until 1979, there was essentially no criminal procedural law in China. In 1979 the Deng Xiaoping regime sought stability and order and created the first criminal procedural law. Since then the law has been revised several times, giving more formal rights to defendants and their counsel, while simultaneously allowing for state harassment of defense attorneys should they too zealously do their jobs. Liu and Halliday reveal the methods of state officials to hinder the pursuit of justice for criminal defendants and their attorneys. In doing so, the authors not only reveal the dangers faced by attorneys but also reveal how dangerous the Communist regime considers this educated, motivated, and articulate group to be to the one-party state.
Ian J. Drake is Associate Professor of Jurisprudence, Montclair State University.