South China Morning Post
2 November 2015
As soon as University of Hong Kong principal law lecturer Eric Cheung Tat-ming got the files of Law Yat-ting earlier this year, he could sense something was wrong: how could Law be jailed for a month and a half simply for closing the door of a stranger's car?
"When we talk about tampering with a vehicle [of which Law was convicted] it usually refers to malicious acts like using a screwdriver to try to open a door or damaging the tyres," Cheung said.
Initiating a case in the Court of Final Appeal is not easy - let alone winning it. After being found guilty by both a magistrate and the High Court, Law sought help from a lawyer who eventually transferred the case to Cheung, the director of clinical legal education at HKU's faculty of law.
The top court eventually acquitted Law on the basis that his act did not amount to tampering, but Cheung questioned whether it would have been interested in Law's case at all if the Department of Justice had not been willing to accept the mistake in the first place.
Cheung lamented that the top court had set the bar too high for accepting criminal cases, and it all too easily turned down applications without even a hearing.
"For applicants who have a legal representative, the court should give them a final chance to deliberate before the judges to try to convince them that it's worth an appeal," Cheung said. "Lawyers after all uphold professional standards and do not allow themselves to engage in a case if it is not arguable."
Cheung is currently teaching full time at HKU's law school, his alma mater where he graduated in 1986 among a batch comprising students who would later become big names such as Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung, Director of Public Prosecutions Keith Yeung Kar-hung, Occupy Central co-founder and HKU legal scholar Benny Tai Yiu-ting and former Ming Pao chief editor Kevin Lau Chun-to... Click here to read the full article.
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