Attorney Liu Xiaoyuan's Blog Article Regarding Forced Closing of Yitong Law Firm

“It Should be a Public Hearing, not a Secret Trial”
By Liu Xiaoyuan

On February 23, Haidian District Bureau of Justice served Yitong Law Firm a hearing notice coded Jing Hai Si Ting Tong Zi (2009) No. 001.
The hearing notice informed us of the time, location, presider, withdrawal and other issues of the hearing, but it did not specify whether the manner of the hearing is a public one or a secret one. When some people read my blog, they asked whether they could sit in on the hearing as spectators.
It is specified in Item 3, Clause 1 of Article 42 of the “Law of the People’s Republic of China on Administrative Penalty” that hearings can be held in public unless they involve state secrets, trade secrets or personal privacy.  The penalty on Yitong Law Firm for hiring Li Subin obviously has nothing to do with state secrets, trade secrets or personal privacy. Therefore, a non-public hearing on such a case would not have a legal basis.
A hearing held in public can be attended by ordinary citizens.
At the same time when Haidian District Bureau of Justice served us the “Hearing Notice,” a copy of “Instructions on Hearing” was attached to it. There are three items in the “Instructions on Hearing.”  The first is “Please enter the site of the hearing 20 minutes in advance through the north gate of Haidian District People’s Government.” The second is “The hearing notice is only to be used by the head of the organization served or its authorized agent (1 or 2 people).” The third is “Please abide by the rules for the hearing.”
According to the requirements of the “Instructions on Hearing,” those who do not hold the original copy of the “Hearing Notice” are not allowed to enter the gate of the government (An important site for government agencies guarded by security guards), let alone the site of the hearing. Even for people who hold the original copy of the “Hearing Notice,” only the head of the law firm and its authorized agents can enter the site.
Doesn’t this mean that other attorneys of the law firm and ordinary citizens can’t sit in on the hearing as spectators?
Not long ago, Premier Wen Jiabao said to the representatives of the people who went to Zhongnanhai as guests that they are the “masters” of Zhongnanhai. According to Premier Wen’s view, I belong to one of the masters of Haidian District Government because I have lived in Haidian District for so many years.  Could I “go home” to take a look and attend a hearing that is closely related to my interests?
I know that the reason why several representatives who entered Zhongnanhai can be regarded as “masters” is because they came at the invitation of the “house owner.” Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to “go home” because the gate of government agencies is not always open to its “masters.”
According to the legal provision, people from all walks of life are allowed to attend, as spectators, a hearing held in public. Maybe Haidian District Bureau of Justice will issue spectators’ passes to the people who go there as spectators.
However, I think if people are interested in this public hearing, they had better contact the Legal Section of Haidian District Bureau of Justice so that they can do some preparations and hold the hearing in a place that can accommodate more people.
Government agencies are important sites for officials in their work. If they don’t issue spectator certificates for fear that they would affect the otherwise quietness in the government agencies and allow only those who hold the original copies of the “hearing notice,” isn’t this public hearing changed in its very nature?
A public hearing is open to the public. People from all walks of life should be allowed to enter the site of hearing as long as they register with their IDs and get their spectator certificates.
If we suppose that ordinary people are not allowed to enter the government compound, which will result in their not being able to get their spectator certificates, which in turn makes it impossible for outsiders to attend the hearing as spectators or only people from special departments can attend the hearing as spectators, would this be any different from a secret hearing? This reminds me of the trial of first instance on Yang Jia, the spectators’ seats were all given to the Public Security Bureau, the “victim.”
The hearing is to be held by the judicial administrative department. Whether it will be public, fair and just and whether it will proceed strictly according to the legal procedure, we can only wait and see.
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