Se­nior judges re­turn to the bench

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By CAO YIN caoyin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

More court pres­i­dents and chief judges are pick­ing up their gavels again in a move to im­prove the qual­ity of case hear­ings, China’s top court said on Mon­day.

In the past, their roles have largely fo­cused on court man­age­ment or ad­min­is­tra­tive af­fairs, at­tend­ing meet­ings or con­duct­ing re­search, “but they have been asked to go back to the court­rooms to hear cases as part of ju­di­cial re­form”, said Xu Ji­axin, di­rec­tor of the Po­lit­i­cal Depart­ment at the Supreme Peo­ple’s Court.

Their re­turn, ini­ti­ated by a re­form put for­ward by the cen­tral lead­er­ship in 2013, re­quires se­nior judges to play a big­ger role in im­prov­ing ef­fi­ciency and al­le­vi­at­ing the pres­sure brought on by the rapidly in­creas­ing num­ber of dis­putes, he said.

Courts in Bei­jing, Shang­hai and Guang­dong prov­ince have moved ahead of other re­gions since the re­form was FIVE YEARS ON launched. Last year, for ex­am­ple, court pres­i­dents and chief judges in the cap­i­tal han­dled 138,000 cases, up 52 per­cent year-on-year, ac­cord­ing to the top court.

To ex­pand the re­form, the high­est ju­di­cial cham­ber is­sued a guide­line in April, clar­i­fy­ing how many cases a pres­i­dent or chief j udge should hear an­nu­ally, and out­lin­ing some of the dis­putes they should han­dle.

For in­stance, the num­ber of cases han­dled by a pres­i­dent in an in­ter­me­di­ate peo­ple’s court should reach 5 per­cent of the av­er­age amount han­dled by other judges in the court, while se­nior judges with ad­min­is­tra­tive ti­tles should first hear cases that are com­pli­cated, unique or that may stir up the pub­lic, it said.

JUS­TICE They have been asked to go back to the court­rooms to hear cases as part of ju­di­cial re­form.” Xu Ji­axin, di­rec­tor of the Po­lit­i­cal Depart­ment at the Supreme Peo­ple’s Court

“We hope more young judges can learn from pres­i­dents and chief judges in case hear­ings, up­hold­ing jus­tice by im­prov­ing the qual­ity of tri­als,” Xu added.

Chen Qi, pres­i­dent of Bei­jing Miyun Dis­trict Peo­ple’s Court, has been reg­u­larly hear­ing cases in court.

“I not only read ju­di­cial doc­u­ments and make ver­dicts. I at­tend all le­gal pro­ce­dures of a case as I did be­fore,” she said, adding that what she does is also dis­closed in the court and su­per­vised by other judges.

But Xu said the re­form does not mean pres­i­dents and chief judges can ig­nore ad­min­is­tra­tive af­fairs. “It’s to push them to bal­ance their work,” he added.

In ad­di­tion, the top court is also ready to es­tab­lish com­mis­sions at pro­vin­cial level to su­per­vise whether judges have made mis­takes in ap­ply­ing laws or le­gal pro­ce­dures, in a bid to im­prove the qual­ity of case hear­ings.

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