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Angiulo: There is No Sixth Amendment in China

Monday, January 27, 2014


It turns out that Justin Bieber was not the only one facing a member of the judiciary this past week. In China, a man named Xu Zhiyong spent several days on trial for his role in gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place. Depending on whom you are speaking to this gentleman is either a leading advocate for human rights or an enemy of the state causing disruption and inciting violence. The apparent answer to that question is reflected in the Chinese Court convicting the gentleman and sentencing him to four years in prison.

Of note, is that members of the media and various international organizations disagree not only with the allegations and conviction but also the way in which the trial occurred. Major complaints from the trial focus on the defense attorney's lack of opportunity to cross-examine witnesses, the courtroom being closed to the public and the media, as well as key prosecution witnesses submitting written testimony instead of live statements. Not to mention allegations of members of the international press being physically removed from the courthouse against their will.

To be sure, this column is not the forum to debate whether or not the Chinese Government uses criminal sanctions to silence dissent or provides fair trials by our standards. Nor can we say for certainty whether, or not, Mr. Xu received a fair trial by that country's standards. What this story does present is an opportunity for a comparison between the due process afforded to people in our country and those in other nations. The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution is a single sentence written in common language that stands between us and abject tyranny.

In our system of justice, trials are open to the public. On one hand, this may result in some cases taking on circus like atmospheres. The defendant or prosecutor may even become semi-celebrities for all the wrong reasons. On the other hand, courts that operate in secret engender fear rather than a sense of justice. They turn courtrooms into tools of oppression instead of places where evidence is heard and jurors consider the merit of accusations. These things happen because the Sixth Amendment requires it and the courts honor those mandates.

The Sixth Amendment also requires that a defendant have the opportunity to confront the witnesses against him, present evidence on his own behalf and have an Attorney fighting for him at trial. As a result of these requirements, a conviction cannot typically rest on written statements without the benefit of cross-examination by defense counsel as allegedly occurred in Mr. Xu's case. Functionally, the words of the Sixth Amendment come alive every time a person stands before a jury or a judge and exercises their right to a fair trial. Something that Mr. Xu is said to have been unable to do.

The toughest part about all this is that some people say Mr. Xu's trial was skewed because he asked tough questions about graft, corruption and the denial of education to the children of migrants in China. If true, the gentleman was striving to bring a better life to countless people who cannot fight for themselves. In this case, a good man may be incarcerated without having the opportunity to challenge the evidence against him. And yet, Mr. Bieber will enjoy all the benefits of a full and fair trial to determine whether or not he egged his neighbors house.

Leonardo Angiulo is an Attorney with the firm of Glickman, Sugarman, Kneeland & Gribouski in Worcester handling legal matters across the Commonwealth. He can be reached by email at [email protected] .


Related Slideshow: The Best States in New England

Using 14 different state rankings, Politico Magazine recently released its list of America's Best States.  See how the New England states fared...

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Overall Rankings

6. Maine (National Rank: 41)
5. Vermont (National Rank: 32)
4. Rhode Island (National Rank: 28)
3. Connecticut (National Rank: 24)
2. Massachusetts (National Rank: 19)
1. New Hampshire (National Rank: 1)
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Wealthiest Per Capita

6. Maine: $26,464 (National Rank: 28)
5. Vermont: $28,846 (National Rank: 19)
4. Rhode Island: $30,005 (National Rank: 13)
3. New Hampshire: $32,758 (National Rank: 7)
2. Massachusetts: $35,485 (National Rank: 5)
1. Connecticut: $37,807 (National Rank: 2)

Source: U.S. Census

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Lowest Unemployment Rate

6. Rhode Island: 9.0 (National Rank: 50)
5. Connecticut: 7.6 (National Rank: 39)
4. Massachusetts: 7.1 (National Rank: 30)
3. Maine: 6.4 (National Rank: 22)
2. New Hampshire: 5.1 (National Rank: 10)
1. Vermont: 4.4 (National Rank: 5)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Lowest Poverty Rate

6. Maine: 13.3 (National Rank: 23)
5. Rhode Island: 13.2 (National Rank: 21)
4. Vermont: 11.6 (National Rank: 12)
3. Massachusetts: 11 (National Rank: 7)
2. Connecticut: 10 (National Rank: 5)
1. New Hampshire: 8.4 (National Rank: 1)

Source: U.S. Census

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Highest Home Ownership Rate

6. Massachusetts: 41.6 (National Rank: 51)
5. Rhode Island: 61.2 (National Rank: 45)
4. Connecticut: 68.3 (National Rank: 24)
3. Vermont: 71.2 (National Rank: 8)
2. New Hampshire 72.0 (National Rank: 7)
1. Maine: 72.1 (National Rank: 6)

Source: U.S. Census

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Highest Percentage of High School Graduates

6. Rhode Island: 84.8 (National Rank: 37)
5. Connecticut: 89 (National Rank: 20)
4. Massachusetts: 89.1 (National Rank: 19)
3. Maine: 90.6 (National Rank: 8)
2. Vermont: 91.3 (National Rank: 6)
1. New Hampshire: 91.4 (National Rank: 5)

Source: U.S. Census

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Longest Life Expectancy

6. Maine: 79.2 (National Rank: 23)
5. Rhode Island: 79.9 (National Rank: 13)
4. New Hampshire: 80.3 (National Rank: 8)
2. Vermont: 80.5 Year (National Rank: 5)
2. Massachusetts: 80.5 years (National Rank: 5)
1. Connecticut: 80.8 years (National Rank: 3)

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

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Lowest Infant Mortality Rate

6. Rhode Island: 6.5 (National Rank: 21)
5. Connecticut: 6.3 (National Rank: 19)
4. Maine 6.0 (National Rank: 14)
2. New Hampshire: 5.1 (National Rank: 4)
2. Vermont: 5.1 (National Rank: 4)
1. Massachusetts: 4.9 (National Rank: 1)

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Lowest Obesity Rate

6. Maine: 27.5 (National Rank: 31)
5. Vermont: 25.7 (National Rank: 20)
4. New Hampshire: 25.1 (National Rank: 17)
3. Rhode Island: 24.3 (National Rank: 8)
2. Connecticut: 22.7 (National Rank: 4)
1. Massachusetts: 21.5 (National Rank: 2)

Source: Gallup “State of the States”

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Highest Reported Wellbeing

6. Rhode Island: 65.5 (National Rank: 37)
5. Maine: 67.3 (National Rank: 20)
4. Connecticut: 67.6 (National Rank: 16)
3. Massachusetts: 68.1 (National Rank: 9)
2. New Hampshire: 68.4 (National Rank: 8)
1. Vermont: 68.8 (National Rank: 5)

Source: Gallup “State of the States”

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Highest Math Scores

6. Rhode Island: 278 (National Rank: 36)
5. Maine: 286 (National Rank: 19)
4. Connecticut: 289 (National Rank: 10)
3. New Hampshire: 292 (National Rank: 7)
2. Vermont: 293 (National Rank: 4)
1. Massachusetts: 200 (National Rank: 1)

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Note: Based on 8th grade math scores

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Highest Reading Scores

6. Rhode Island: 258 (National Rank: 39)
5. Connecticut: 267 (National Rank: 12)
4. New Hampshire: 270 (National Rank: 4)
4. Maine: 270 (National Rank: 4)
1. Vermont: 273 (National Rank: 1)
1. Massachusetts: 273 (National Rank: 1)

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Note: Based on 8th grade math scores

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Least Income Inequality

6. Connecticut: 0.4915 (National Rank: 49)
5. Massachusetts: 0.4813 (National Rank: 44)
4. Rhode Island: 0.4647 (National Rank: 32)
3. Maine: 0.445 (National Rank: 15)
2. Vermont: 0.4392 (National Rank: 11)
1. New Hampshire: 0.4298 (National Rank: 5)

Source: U.S. Census

Note: Data is based on GINI coefficient

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Lowest Crime Rate

6. Massachusetts: 405.5 (National Rank: 31)
5. Connecticut: 283 (National Rank: 19)
4. Rhode Island: 252.4 (National Rank: 13)
3. New Hampshire: 187.9 (National Rank: 3)
2. Vermont 142.6 (National Rank: 2)
1. Maine 122.7 (National Rank: 1)

Source: FBI

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Highest Percentage Employed in STEM Jobs

6. Maine: 4.1 (National Rank: 37)
5. Rhode Island: 4.4 (National Rank: 32)
4. Vermont: 5.7 (National Rank: 15)
3. Connecticut: 6 (National Rank: 11)
2. New Hampshire: 6.9 (National Rank: 7)
1. Massachusetts: 7.4 (National Rank: 5)

Source: U.S. Census

Note: STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)

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H.L. Mencken and Charles Angoff’s 1931 rankings

6. Vermont
5. New Hampshire
4. Maine
3. Rhode Island
2. Connecticut
1. Massachusetts


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