Deconstruction in Law: a contemporary case

Derrida saw law as limited calculation, thus deconstructible. As the author mentioned in the previous blog, according to Pavlich (2011), “deconstruction does not destroy meanings in a language; it reorganizes the use of language by realigning the oppositions (i.e.- male and female, gay and straight, etc.), thus making room for unexpected meanings and patterns.” It is the author’s intension to use the following case as an example to illustrate that deconstruction shifts between laws and justice and that new unexpected meanings of law and justice can emerge depends on who is on trial.

In 2006, Taiwan’s former president Chen Shui-Bian was involved in a corruption scandal that could have caused him to step down from presidency before the end of his second term in 2008. On November 4th of 2006, “the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Taiwan’s High Court formally indicted Mr. Chen’s wife, Wu Shu-Shen, on charges of issuing fake receipts to extract about $450,000 from a fund that the president controls to support Taiwan’s diplomatic initiatives overseas.” (Kahn, New York Times, 2006) Ms. Wu was accused for using the funds for personal expenditures such as diamonds and other luxury items for her family. She was also involved in another bribery scandal whereas she was rumored to have accepted a large sum of gift certificates from a department store chains (ps- a really big company with branch stores all over Asian and South-East Asian countries) for government favors.

Throughout Mr. Chen’s presidency, Chen’s family did not provide any evidence that the funds were not used improperly. Close to the end of Chen’s presidency, Ms. Wu and her family were involved in transferring the funds to over sea personal accounts in Sweden. The Court requested them to return the funds but they were unwilling to cooperate. The Court had to make a request with Sweden and the bank the funds were deposited in to retrieve the money, however, the money retrieved was clearly short compared to what had shown on record. Again, Ms. Wu and her family showed no signs of cooperation to return the money in full.

After the trial had started, Ms. Wu had requested to postpone the trial 16 times due to sudden hypotension as of April 2008. After she had been sentenced to 19 years in prison, she was not locked up due to health issues and after a prison’s auxiliary hospital refused to admit her. The government did not want to bare any responsibility that might result in any possibility on “negligence resulting death.” The court here deconstructed the laws and added elements of human rights to their likings. If the person on trial was just a regular Joe, there would be no way that the court would grant so many postpone and let alone not being locked up due to “health issues”.


Kahn, J. (Nov. 4, 2006) Taiwanese President and Wife Are Accused of Corruption. The New         York Times.

Pavlich, G. (2011). Law & Society Redefined. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press.

United Daily News.


1 Comment

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One response to “Deconstruction in Law: a contemporary case

  1. This is an interesting case study.

    I would like to see some additional explanation of the relationship between the case and deconstruction. How did the court deconstruct the laws?

    From what you have presented here, it looks like this case could be effectively explained using Marxist legal theory or CLS. It appears to be an illustration of the differential treatment of persons ‘before the law’ depending on their class position and status.