Sat, Jan 03, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Bar association defends Chen Shui-bian's lawyer

By Rich Chang, Lin Chun-hung and Liu Chih-yuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Taipei Bar Association yesterday expressed regret over the decision by the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office to refer former president Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) lawyer Cheng Wen-lung (鄭文龍) to a disciplinary committee.

Despite a resolution approved by the Taipei Bar Association last month not to take any disciplinary action against Cheng over his handling of Chen's case, the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office on Wednesday decided that Cheng had violated legal ethics and his case has been submitted to a disciplinary committee consisting of three judges, one prosecutor and five lawyers for review.

Taipei Bar Association chairman Liu Chih-peng (劉志鵬) yesterday reiterated that Cheng had not violated any regulations during the case, adding that the bar had found Cheng's actions were not aimed at helping Chen to escape, destroy evidence nor share testimony information with other witnesses or defendants in the case, and that he was merely doing his job as a lawyer.

However, Chief Prosecutor Hou Ming-huang (侯名皇), after reviewing recordings of Cheng's visits with Chen during the latter's detention and material containing Cheng relaying statements from Chen, concluded on Wednesday that Cheng's remarks that “the judiciary has reached a decision prior to the trial” and that the judiciary “indicted Chen on [their superiors'] directive” had violated principles of legal ethics.

Hou said Cheng's remarks constituted a malicious attack on the judiciary, did not fulfill his responsibility to promote democracy and maintain a good social standing and had obstructed prosecutors' attempts to investigate and establish the facts of the case.

On Dec. 5, the Taipei Bar Association stated that the Attorney Act (律師法) and legal ethics did not preclude a lawyer from talking to the press. Making reference to legislation in the US and other developed countries, the association said it was the responsibility of the bar association, and not the Ministry of Justice, to determine the extent to which lawyers could talk to outsiders. The information Cheng relayed to the press was unrelated to Chen's case and did not constitute a violation of the Attorney Act, the bar association said.

In response to the move made by the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office, Cheng said prosecutors were ignoring the rights of lawyers to defend themselves, as well as the resolution passed by the bar association. He said it was unreasonable for prosecutors to act as both a player and the referee.

In related news, two senior judges found themselves in a war of words with two Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators over Chen's case.

Shortly after the Taipei District Court's decision last week to change the presiding judge in Chen's case, Huang Jui-hua (黃瑞華), president of the Ilan District Court, and Shilin District Court Judge Hung Ying-hua (洪英花) published articles criticizing the decision and panning the procedures as flawed.

On Thursday, KMT Legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元) accused Hung of being Chen's “secret guard in the judiciary” during a political talk show on TVBS.

Moments later, the show's host told the audience that Hung had just called in and asked Tsai to apologize for the remark, or else she would sue Tsai on Monday Tsai refused to apologize.

KMT Legislator Chiu Yi (邱毅), another guest on the show, claimed that Huang has been called a “judicial Rambo” because she presided over a corruption case against former Pingtung County commissioner Wu Tse-yuan (伍澤元) and had passed a heavy sentence.

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