And Finally

Poor judgement

Furore as lawyer gets handcuffed to a basketball post by maverick judge

Poor judgement

Take him to the basketball court

British judge, John Deeds is famous for his unorthodox methods. He may be fictional – the lead character in the BBC’s longest running legal drama, in fact – but he’s influential too. So much so that juries in Britain have been told not to let him influence their views of how trials work.

But even Deeds’ “swashbuckling” approach to the meting out of justice pales in comparison to China’s Hong Meng.

The China Daily this week reported on an incredible case in which Judge Hong in Kunming was so annoyed by a lawyer that he resorted to an unusual punishment.

The incident occurred last Friday, and saw lawyer He Yunxiang removed from the court to an adjacent basketball court.

The judge then ordered two policemen to handcuff He’s right hand to a basketball post. “It’s the first time I’ve been treated like that,” the lawyer recounts. “The policemen told me not to move.”

Quite how he would have done so is unclear.

But he did the next best thing and began taking photos of his predicament on his mobile phone – although not for long, as Hong then ordered a policemen to confiscate it.

The lawyer – who had served as a judge himself for 10 years before returning to private practice – remained handcuffed for 40 minutes before the court’s vice-director learned of the situation and ordered him released.

The bizarre incident – a creative inspiration perhaps for future scriptwriters on the Judge John Deeds show – took place in the Chengjiang county court in Yunnan province.

The dispute was over a document that He was refusing to sign, despite Hong’s urging. The lawyer claimed it did not accurately reflect his view.

On release from the basketball court, a livid He submitted a letter of accusation to the Yunnan provincial procurator claiming ‘illegal imprisonment’.

He later posted the letter on an online bulletin board, where the incident got widespread attention.

According to Legal Daily, the director of Yunnan Provincial People’s Court asked for the case to be immediately investigated. The final report concluded: “It is true that Hong Meng took enforcement measures against lawyer He Yuanxiang. He did that without permission and did that wrongly.”

China Daily notes that local courts are considering penalties to punish Hong, who has also been told that he must apologise to the lawyer.

This may not be enough to appease an angry He, who insists that he will go ahead with plans to sue the judge.

“I am claiming criminal liability,” he says.

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