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Prospective judges to get more scrutiny

Updated: 2016-08-12 08:12
By Cao Yin (China Daily)

Top court moves to improve case hearings by drawing from ranks of experienced lawyers

The Supreme People's Court said it will more thoroughly research the backgrounds and abilities of lawyers seeking to be judges, in a move to support a rule on the selection of judges that was adopted in June by the central leadership.

The rule says selecting judges, prosecutors and legislators from the ranks of lawyers should be encouraged because lawyers effectively combine judicial theory and practice.

It also clarifies that some lawyers cannot be judges, including those whose spouses or children have moved overseas, those with criminal records or those who have committed disciplinary violations.

The top court said on Thursday that its department that selects judges has studied the rule since it was published, saying it will continue to work on building a strong, competent legal community.

"We've smoothed exchanges between judges, lawyers and law professors over the past decade to increase communication and identify talent," said a department official who asked not to be named.

In 2006, for example, 15 law professionals and lawyers were named to serve as judges under the top court after a public selection process. An additional three, including an attorney, started working under the highest judicial chamber in 2014, the official said.

He said a more rigorous selection process in researching judicial candidates will be followed under the new rule.

"We've established a special committee to test a candidate's legal knowledge and his or her understanding of judicial policies at the beginning," he said. "Then, we will research the background of the candidate and his or her family to make sure they are not people who could influence the court," he said.

All procedures in the selection process will be conducted transparently, he added.

Bi Yuqian, a law professor at China University of Political Science and Law, applauded the rule and said the measures should be extended across the country.

"Judges should be people with rich experience in solving disputes, but now most of them go to work after graduating from law school. In other words, they lack practical legal experience. That is a lawyer's big advantage," Bi said.

Selecting judges from the ranks of lawyers follows the practice in many countries, including Britain and the United States, he said, adding that this will help courts improve the quality of hearings.

"It's reasonable that lawyers whose spouses or children have moved overseas be barred from serving as judges," he said, because it's hard to tell whether they transferred property or did other things that would call their ethics into question from litigants.

But Cheng Yi, a Beijing lawyer, said the goal of drawing more lawyers to the judicial bench may not be practical, "because lawyers tend to prefer tackling cases they are interested in, rather than taking every case allocated in a court."

China has almost 300,000 lawyers and about 200,000 judges.


(China Daily 08/12/2016 page9)

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