The Taipei Bar Association yesterday decided not to punish former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) lawyer, Cheng Wen-long (鄭文龍), for publicizing his client’s messages during Chen’s detention.
“His behavior has not violated any regulations so there is no need to punish him,” Liu Chih-peng (劉志鵬), chairman of the association, told a press conference yesterday morning.
The Ministry of Justice asked the Taipei Bar Association and the Taipei District Court late last month to investigate whether Cheng had violated the lawyer’s code of ethics by passing on the former president’s messages, claiming that his statements were political in nature and defamatory to the judiciary.
“Cheng was merely doing his job as a defense counsel,” Liu said.
Echoing Liu’s remarks, Lin Tien-tsai (林添財), an association board director, said that Cheng’s actions were not aimed at helping Chen escape, destroy evidence or share testimony information with other witnesses or defendants involved in the same case.
In addition, whenever Cheng spoke, he always made it clear that he was passing on the former president’s private concerns and opinions.
“Cheng’s questioning of the legal process and filing of an appeal on behalf of his client are part of a defense counsel’s job,” Lin said. “How can you condemn a man for doing his best for his client?”
In addition to the association’s decision on Cheng, Liu said that Cheng’s actions had highlighted another issue that needed to be discussed — how to protect a detainee’s human rights and assure a lawyer’s legal right to defend his client.
Greg Yo (尤伯祥), another association board director, said that a lawyer’s legal right to defend his client should be guaranteed as long as the lawyer in question is not helping his client destroy evidence or exchange information with other witnesses or defendants.
“In Cheng’s case, I did not see any problems on this account,” Yo said.