Procedural Justice or Result Justice? – Chinese Comedian Proved Innocent in the United States

Chinese Comedian Proved Innocent

June 4th, 2018, Zhou Libo – the controversial Chinese comedian proved innocent in the United States, he and his wife walked out from the Nassau County District Court in New York State. They dressed up fashionably and looked relaxing. Outside the court, journalists from multiple media were already waiting for their appearances.

During the trial, the prosecution stated that he had four charges against Zhou Libo, including the crime of illegal possession of weapons by the second class, the crime of illegal possession of firearms, the crime of illegal possession of weapons at the fourth level, and the illegal possession of controlled articles. The other four counts were withdrawn, and there were no guns and drugs mentioned in court. Because Zhou Libo admitted using a mobile phone while driving, he was fined $150 for traffic violations. Zhou Libo expressed satisfaction with the results and will not appeal.

At this point, after 11 trials in one year and four months, Zhou Libo will finally close the case in the United States.

Facing media outside the court, Zhou Libo appeared relaxing and pleased. He even took a group picture with all the media and told them he would go back to China shortly.

So, What Exactly Was Zhou Libo’s Case?

Late at night on January 18, 2017, New York police reported that a black Mercedes-Benz was suspected serpentuating, and that the driver used the phone while driving. The police intercepted and searched it in Lattingtown, Long Island. A pistol and two bags of cocaine were found in the car.

Zhou Libo was the driver of the car and he got arrested immediately by the police, as well as his friend, Tang Shuang, who was sitting on the front passenger seat.

Later, the prosecutor had decided not to initiate criminal prosecution against Tang Shuang, and the only prosecution object is Zhou Libo.

January 2017, after the first trial of Zhou’s case, while facing multiple media outside the court, Zhou Libo said, “I will thank my country.” When the media asked about him holding guns illegally, he answered loudly, “It’s legal to own guns here!”

On January 9, the New York State Grand Jury decided to formally prosecute Zhou Libo, and filed five counts against him, with a maximum sentence of 21 years. Zhou Libo did not plead guilty. Two of the five counts is a felony: illegal possession of weapons and illegal possession of firearms; and two counts of a misdemeanor: the crime of illegal possession of weapons and the illegal possession of controlled articles, the maximum sentence is one year; one count of a traffic violation: using a cellphone while driving.

In the first 12 months, the Zhou Libo case had not made any improvement, and Zhou Libo also hired three different lawyers on after another. On December 18, 2017, the Long Island Nassau Grand Jury decided to file five criminal charges against Zhou Libo. When the hope of withdrawing the case was completely shattered, Zhou Libo found the super lawyer in New York, Stephen Scaring.

Everyone knows Lawyer Stephen Scaring on the Nassau County District Court in New York State. Stephen Scaring was like a legend with an 80% winning rate. On January 9th, 2018, Zhou Libo attended the trial with lawyer Stephen Scaring. Facing the five counts against Zhou Libo, Lawyer Scaring told the court and media that his client would be eventually proven innocent. Stephen Scaring argued that, the prosecution did not have any evidence that the guns and drugs belong to Zhou Libo. In the end, Zhou Libo was acquitted after several trials.

Interview with Hard Talk with Wang (Ju Mian in Chinese)

After Zhou Libo returned to China, he accepted the interview with Hard Talk.

Zhou Libo claiming he does not use drugs on a interview

Zhou Libo claiming he does not use drugs on a interview

Zhou Libo said, he wasn’t doing the interview for defending himself, because the law has already proven that he was innocent.

When the host Wang Zhian asked Zhou Libo, “was the gun yours?” Zhou denied and implied that the gun was planted into his car by someone. “If someone wanted to do me harm, he would do so,” Zhou said. “However, obviously the court didn’t think the gun belongs to me. Otherwise, I won’t even be here in the first place.”

On Weibo, Zhou Libo told the story in a more straightforward way. He pointed out that a friend of him (Zhou Libo called him “Someone”) who lived in the United States planted the guns and drugs in his car.

Zhou Libo said, “He invited us (Zhou and Tang Shuang) to his house. After we arrived, he suggested that we went hunting. While we were putting together our belongings, he put his personal stuff (including the guns and drugs) into my backpack and put the backpack in my car. Because of some reasons, we didn’t go hunting.”

“That night, I drove my friend Tang Shuang home. A few minutes after I left someone’s house, two cops started to follow me and pulled me over. They looked like they were targeting me for a while. They didn’t just search a random car from the road.”

During the interview, Zhou Libo mentioned that while he was visiting “someone”, he left his car unlocked in the backyard, and he also left his backpack in “someone’s bedroom.

“During those a few hours, technically, everyone can touch my car and backpack, even put something in it.” Zhou Libo explained. He thought it was obvious that “someone” framed him.

According to the testimony provided by the two police officers who searched his car, Officer Litterello said that he saw “black Mercedes traveling westbound on Bayville Avenue, I witnessed the cell, electronic device that the driver was using.” He also said that the car “couldn’t maintain lanes and they were slowing down to maybe 30 miles an hour or speeding up to 50 miles an hour.” Zhou Libo also denied it. He told the host that the reason why he was driving at different speeds was “it was very dark outside, and I can’t see very well.”

When asked about the “procedural justice” in the American legal system, Zhou Libo denied that he won the case only because of the evidence were invalid. “There was evidence showing that the guns and drugs were not mines. Along with the evidence of police officers finding them in my car being invalid, that was how I finally won this case.”

Zhou Libo With His Three Lawyers

During the interview with Hardtalk, A name Mo Hu was mentioned several times. Mo Hu was Zhou Libo’s lawyer when Zhou was arrested.

However, Zhou Libo said, even he contacted Mo Hu right away after he was kept in custody, it still took him more than two days to bail him out.

Mo Hu is a name that known by lots of Chinese-Americans in New York. In 1976, after he had just left the school, Mo Hu was appointed as the deputy prosecutor of the Manhattan Public Prosecutor’s Office and the special prosecutor of the New York City Anti-narcotics. He was the first Chinese-American to receive this position. Eight years later, at the age of 33, he was promoted to the position of deputy director of the New York Police Department. He became the first Chinese-American senior police officer in the history of the United States. At the age of 43, Mo Huo became the owner of a personal law firm, which dedicated to endorsing Chinese-American’s interests.

After a few trials, the court still upheld the original verdict: two counts of felony, two counts of misdemeanor and one traffic violation. Realizing there wasn’t too much hope of being acquitted, Zhou Libo fired Mo Hu and hired lawyer Daniel Russo from Foley Griffin Law Firm.

The third lawyer Zhou Libo hired was Stephen Scaring, who was a legend among New York Lawyers with an 80% winning rate. After 11 trials, Zhou Libo finally closed his case with being acquitted.

Zhou’s first lawyer, Mo Hu, said he was shocked that how Zhou Libo “talked nonsense” on the interview with Hard Talk. Also, he “knew all the details about the case.” “It wasn’t like what Zhou Libo said in the interview with Hard Talk.” And he decided to “tell the public all the truth when it is necessary.”

In a statement published by Mo Hu regarding Zhou Libo’s case, he said, “it was intolerable that Zhou Libo damaged my personal reputation and conduct a personal attack on me.” He would protect his rights by legal means if it was necessary.

Mo Hu also said that Zhou Libo took advantage of the sensitive moments to maliciously provoke Sino-US relations and played with internal affairs. Zhou Libo also tried to occupy the high point of public opinion by “taking the lead”.

Procedural Justice or Result Justice

Zhou Libo’s case and him being acquitted from the court caused lots of uproars on the Chinese internet. A lot of people asked, did Zhou Libo actually hold illegal weapons or not? Did Zhou Libo use drugs or not?

There were still people who work in law-related fields trying to explain the differences between procedural justice and result justice.

In the last trial, the core reason for the court’s acquittal was Zhou Libo’s defense lawyer proposed that according to US law if there was no obvious illegal behavior, the police could not search the car without the permission of the parties or the court search warrant.

Zhou Libo claiming he does not use drugs on a interview

Zhou Libo claiming he does not use drugs on a interview

Therefore, the evidence of guns and drugs found by the police on the spot was invalid, and these key evidence have been lost. Of course, there was no way to judge Zhou Libo’s possession of guns. This kind of defense is in full compliance with US law. The United States has strict restrictions on public power. It requires the police to handle the case legally and compliantly. If the police can’t prove that the evidence were legally obtained, they will be judged as invalid.

Is it really worthwhile to abandon the result justice in pursuit of procedural justice?

The answer is yes. If the United States is pursuing procedural justice, then China is in long-term pursuing result justice. Although the procedural justice of the United States has caused some criminals to escape the law justification, the result justice of China has brought many defamation cases. People heard bizarre news such as after more than a decade, the victim who should have died in the murder case appeared in front of people.

Why is this happening? Because in the judicial practice of the past few decades, China has despised procedural justice and pursued result justice.

After decades of judicial practice around the world, the debate over the outcome of justice and judicial justice has slowly subsided, and now almost every country tends to procedural justice like what they do in the United States. In these years, China has successively proposed to ban confessions by torture, avoiding single confession, strict legal requirements for handling of cases, etc. All those efforts are trying to be close to procedural justice. Procedural justice can strictly limit public power, protect innocent ordinary people. As for punishing criminals, the actual results are actually very good.

Remember, only procedural justice can bring result justice. Only when everyone supports procedural justice can people truly protect their legal rights.

Article Name
Chinese Comedian Proved Innocent in the United States
June 4th, 2018, Zhou Libo - the controversial Chinese comedian proved innocent in the United States, he and  his wife walked out from the Nassau County District Court in New York State.
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