Full Text: White Paper on Judicial Reform in China

Updated: 2012-10-09 13:12


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2. Standardizing Judicial Acts

Social fairness and justice shall be ensured in the trial of every case and in each judicial act. Due to the country's unbalanced economic and social development, different law-enforcement capabilities of judicial personnel and remnants of local protectionism, there are still problems like non-transparent exercise of judicial discretion and non-standardized judicial acts. In recent years, China's judicial organs have vigorously pushed forward the standardization of penalties, established the case guidance system, and enhanced case management, all of which have promoted standardization of judicial acts.

Standardizing penalties. To regulate acts in giving out a sentence, the Supreme People's Court, by summarizing pilot experiences, has formulated the Guiding Opinions on Sentencing by the People's Courts (Trial Implementation) and Opinions on Several Issues Concerning the Regulation of Sentencing Procedures (Trial Implementation). Both documents clarify the sentencing processes, subdivide the range of statutory sentencing and clarify the quantification standards for different circumstances when giving out a sentence. For cases of public prosecution, the people's procuratorate provides suggestions on sentencing in accordance with the law, while the litigant, the defender and the procurator may give opinions on the penalty. Comparatively independent sentencing procedures have been established for court trials, so as to facilitate investigations and debates over the facts and evidence concerning conviction and sentencing in a case. The people's courts should explain the reasons for sentencing in their documents of criminal judgment. These reforms have further standardized sentencing jurisdiction, and maintained transparency and impartiality of sentencing.

Establishing the case guidance system. In 2010, China's judicial organs issued regulations on building a case guidance system, marking the establishment of a case guidance system with Chinese characteristics. Different from the system of case judgment in the common law, China's case guidance system - under the statutory law - uses cases to give directions for the accurate understanding and appropriate application of the provisions of laws. In recent years, judicial organs have made public cases that are typical in the application of laws as guiding cases and references for judicial personnel at all levels to settle similar cases. The case guidance system has improved the standardized exercise of judicial discretion, and enhanced uniformity in the application of the law.

Enhancing case management. The people's courts and people's procuratorates have set up special case management institutions to improve the management of case-handling procedures and quality. By the end of May, 2012, nearly 1,400 people's courts had set up special trial management institutions, and nearly 1,600 people's procuratorates had set up special case management institutions. Public security organs have arranged for full-time/part-time legal personnel at the basic-level law enforcement organs to supervise and examine the process of case handling. Judicial organs have widely established information platforms for case management, which have realized online case handling, supervision and appraisal, and improved the level of standardized case handling.