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Legal Ethics Homework (Selected Student Essays)
Last Modified:  2012-04-08 08:32:39
CESL Co-dean Fang Liufang taught the 2011 Legal Ethics class for Doubles Masters’ students. The class conducted in-depth research into the definitions and dilemmas of legal ethics given by different philosophical schools and reviewed the relationship between theory and morality. The course aimed to inspire students by considering the question of legal ethics from the perspectives of judges, lawyers and the public, throughout the ages, and across borders.

In conflicts of legal ethics, some problems have a long history, yet when looked at after the passage of time appear fresh; some problems result from contradictions between different periods of time and the outcome is not always harmonious.

Legal Scholars’ Points of View

The third lecture was titled, “Marxist Moral Philosophy”. Co-dean Fang Liufang talked about the relationship between understanding Marx and reading the original works. He raised the problem of whether Engel’s original meaning had been correctly interpreted by civil law textbooks. This led students to find the original works and sources to verify Engel’s real meaning.

Guan Erjia and Li Meng both carried out research into the Chinese text of Engel’s Selected Works. They analysed whether confusion in understanding arose due to poor translations and annotations, pointing to erroneous citations as the problem. Guan Erjia laid particular emphasis on the logical relationship between the different volumes of Engel’s selected works, pointing out the need for complete accuracy in academia. Li Meng concentrated on analysis of the relationship between citations in different translations of Engel’s Selected Works. She presented the advantages and disadvantages of each, and called for a radical overhaul of citations. Wan Meixiu used Engel’s complete theories as a framework to conduct macro analysis. Wan used a unique style to show how the contradictions between commentary in civil law textbooks and Engels legal theories inevitably led to mistakes.
Guan Erjia: Annotations of Engel’s theories and harmonisation of law
Li Meng: Overhauling the System of Citations and Harmonisation of Law
Wan Meixiu: Discussing Engel’s Theories on Legal Autonomy in his Later Books and Letters
Judges’ Points of View

The main topic of the fourth lecture on legal ethics was “Law versus morality in individual cases”. Three different types of cases were covered: the judgement in the case of Ah Zhu from a Collection of Wise and Virtuous Song Dynasty Judgements (名公书判清明集), the “Li Liang paternity dispute” which arose many years after the time when young intellectuals were sent to the countryside, and the Deng Yuanzhen case in which a husband and his first wife were separated by the Taiwan Strait due to political reasons, and where husband remarried without divorcing his first wife. These cases show three different eras of personal sorrow and rejoicing, behind which is the eternal battle between passion, law and reason. The problem of maintaining the balance between the different value sets, and effectively reconciling the fraught relationship between law and passion and law and reason was placed before students.

Xie Lin summed up Song Dynasty customs, deducing the inherent logic behind the two judgements in the Ah Zhu case, giving unique insights into the problems encountered with fate and justice and the search for good and evil that were the background to this case. Li Qian concentrated on the fraught relationship between the law and passion, summing up the Song Dynasty definition of “passion”, and reflecting on the “law” contained in the court judgement. Citing other cases as evidence from the Collection of Song Dynasty Judgements, she sought a middle way, that did not break the spirit of the law and that also respected humanity.
Xie Lin: Questions of Moral Principles in the Ah Zhu Case
Li Qian: Profound Thoughts on Law and Humanity
Faced with Li Liang’s request that the identity of his natural father be confirmed and payment of child support be made, CESL student Du Ruyi used countless references to sum up theory and practise, administrative law analysis and interpretation of comparative law, citing similar cases from around the world to expound upon the origin, necessity and connotations of the judge’s the moral position, as well as the role the judge played in this the judgement. Lin Lan used strict analysis of the evidence currently available to critique the good and bad points of the two judgements. In her essay, Lan attacked judges who play safe when faced with the dilemma of law and morality by using holes in the evidence to evade problems.
Du Ruyi: Give Judges a Moral Compass
Lin Lan: Analysis of Li Liang’s Application to Have Wu Shifu Recognised as his Natural Father
In the third case, Dong Yu argued from the point of view of the Taiwanese legal system, using the rights and the values of the Basic Law as a basis to refute the interpretation of the judge in cases of “bigamy”. In addition, she debated the possibility of administrative aid being awarded to Chen Luanxiang from the point of view of the national compensation law. The essay’s novel perspective demonstrated both a spirit of inquiry and an inquisitive attitude.
Dong Yu: On the Case of Chen Luanxiang
Lawyers ’ Points of View

The sixth class started with the cases of O. J. Simpson and Li Zhuang. Debate focussed on the legality of professional ethics and the basis for legality. The national outcry over the explosion of Chongqing’s “Sing red, smash black”, and the public outcry over Li Zhuang’s extortion. The lawyers who came out in defence contrasted with public condemnation of lawyers’ high fees and networking. Students were asked to consider whether there was a distinction between public ethics and legal ethics? And what the effect was of China’s real legal environment on the image of lawyers.

Lin Haokun used a timeline of events to sum up the direction of public opinion at each stage of the Li Zhuang case. He examined the reason for conflict between public ethics and legal ethics, believing that the unwritten rules that prevail in the legal sector, are firstly a result of the legal system, secondly judges and finally lawyers, with lawyers made into scapegoats. Li Qing made an impassioned cry that “lawyers should be treated as people too”. When looking at the problem of professional ethics, more thought was given to the fact that the public expects lawyers to act as saints and carry the flag for the public interest. He pointed out that lawyers’ human nature is ignored in an environment that lacks both the rule of law and an effective system of supervision, and how laughable it therefore is to have such harsh requirements for morality.
Li Bing: Who Directed the Li Zhuang Case
Lin Haokun: The Conflict Between Legal and Public Ethics Behind the Li Zhuang Case
Li Qing: Lawyers are Human Beings too: Thoughts on the Li Zhuang Case