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Criminal Defense in China
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Book description

Criminal Defense in China studies empirically the everyday work and political mobilization of defense lawyers in China. It builds upon 329 interviews across China, and other social science methods, to investigate and analyze the interweaving of politics and practice in five segments of the practicing criminal defense bar in China from 2005 to 2015. This book is the first to examine everyday criminal defense work in China as a political project. The authors engage extensive scholarship on lawyers and political liberalism across the world, from seventeenth-century Europe to late twentieth-century Korea and Taiwan, drawing on theoretical propositions from this body of theory to examine the strategies and constraints of lawyer mobilization in China. The book brings a fresh perspective through its focus on everyday work and ordinary lawyering in an authoritarian context and raises searching questions about law and lawyers, politics and society, in China's uncertain future.


‘In Criminal Defense in China, Sida Liu and Terry Halliday draw together their rich theoretical and comparative backgrounds with unparalleled empirical work to produce what is by far the most probing study in any language of the nature and challenges of criminal defense work in the People’s Republic of China.’

William P. Alford - Henry L. Stimson Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, Massachusetts

‘Over the past decades, the theory of the legal complex has transformed the approach to the study of lawyers and the legal profession by showing that at least a tiny portion of the legal profession consistently mobilizes to fight for basic freedoms and political liberalism in the name of ‘law'. In this study of criminal defense attorneys in contemporary China, Halliday and Liu find ample support for the theory, and in so doing, demonstrate just how powerful the theory is. This pioneering study can be read with profit by sociologists of law and the legal profession, political scientists interested in law and courts, criminal justice scholars, and South Asian specialists. The book is a stunning achievement.’

Malcolm Feeley - Claire Sanders Clements Professor, Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law

‘Liu and Halliday offer a timely and much-needed account of the Chinese legal profession’s role in political change. They ask how lawyers strive to institutionalize basic legal freedoms in the context of an authoritarian one-party state. They do so through the hard case of the criminal defense bar. The book’s wide-ranging discussion of lawyers’ motivations from internationally renowned ‘cause lawyers’ to unsung grassroots activists underscores the diversity and potential of China’s legal profession. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the current situation of China’s lawyers during this period of increased political tension.’

Mary E. Gallagher - University of Michigan

'Viewing criminal defense as a political project, they draw on propositions from scholarship on lawyers and political liberalism across the world - from seventeenth-century Europe to late-twentieth century Korea and Taiwan - to examine the strategies and constraints of lawyer mobilization in China.'

Source: Law and Social Inquiry

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

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