Court: Interrogation of lawyer illegal
Russian Lawyer who refused to testify against his client vindicated by the Court
Lawyer Yegor Mylnikov has been forced to stop the defence of his client in a criminal case twice. In both cases, he had to defend himself in court. After he won his cases, Mylnikov received a formal warning from the Bar Association, which he now also successfully refuted in court.
Mylnikov was representing his client when the investigator intended to interrogate him as a witness in the same case. When Mylnikov refused to testify, the investigator informed him that he might be prosecuted for his refusal.
In September 2013, Mylnikov was temporarily deprived of his status as defence counsel in the case so that he could be interrogated as a witness. Mylnikov submitted a complaint to the Novgorod Region Chamber of Lawyers about the violation of his professional rights. He claimed that by means of fictitious interrogation, he had been illegally removed from his client’s defence counsel.
In January 2014, the lawyer’s participation in the case was again suspended. This time because the investigator had tried to hear him as a witness. Mylnikov was replaced by an assigned lawyer. Subsequently, in April 2014, the Board of the Novgorod Region Chamber of Lawyers accused Mylnikov of breaking the law and legal ethics. He was alleged to have defended his client in defiance of the investigator’s prohibitions and having assisted his client in filing complaints against the assigned counsel. Mylnikov was warned that if he would not stop the defence of his client in that case, he would be deprived of the defence lawyer status.
In July 2014, the Vyborg City Court considered the complaint filed by Mylnikov’s client, against the allegedly illegal interrogation of his lawyer. The court found that the interrogation of Mylnikow was illegal indeed and only conducted with a view of removing Mylnikov from the case.
On October 8 2014, the Court Collegium for Civil Cases of the Novgorod Regional Court dismissed all the charges against Mylnikov. Mylnikov is now preparing a civil claim against the Novgorod Region Bar Association to recover non-pecuniary damages.
A second lawyer who is working together with Mylnikov on the same case, now also faces disciplinary proceedings. The investigator filed a complaint against the lawyer at the Novgorod Bar Association.
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