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China: Supreme Court Issues Detailed Work Report
Source: Xinhuanet
Source Date: Saturday, July 17, 2010
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government
Country: China
Created: Jul 19, 2010

China's Supreme People's Court (SPC) on Tuesday released a detailed 2009 report on the work of the country's courts, a move seen as the judiciary's efforts in promoting work transparency and seeking supervision from the public.

During each annual session of the National People's Congress, which is usually held in early March, the country's chief justice will also deliver a work report. But different from that one, the mid-year report is said to be more comprehensive.

"The report just released is in line with the one delivered by the SPC president regarding the main spirit and structure of the court. But this one, with more specific cases, figures and illustrations, aims to tell the public what the people's courts did in 2009 in full details," said Hu Yunteng, a senior official with the SPC.

Figures from the report show that the SPC dealt with 13,318 cases of various types and ruled on 11,749 cases, up 52.1 percent year on year. Local courts at various levels resolved more than 10 million cases, according to the report.

The number of cases brought before courts nationwide registered an average annual rise of 5.95 percent since 2005.

The report pointed out that judicial work at grass-root courts was "more arduous" as cases soared, while the number of judges hearing these cases remained about the same.

According to the report, one Chinese judge heard an average of 55 cases last year. In some local courts, this figure reached above 280.

In addition to statistics, the report also covers, in detail, several highly publicized cases.

In July 2009, the Intermediate People's Court of Chengdu in southwestern Sichuan Province sentenced a drunk driver named Sun Weiming to death, the first such verdict in China. In the second trial, the verdict was reduced to life imprisonment.

According to the report, while adhering to lawful judgment, various local courts "publicized the sentences on major drunk driving cases in a timely manner and addressed public questions earnestly and patiently."

Following the verdict, the SPC issued a judicial interpretation last September that instructed local courts in what situations severe sentences should be handed down to a drunk driver as drunk driving cases rose rapidly in various regions, said the report.

"The report, recording the courts' proper management of widely-focused cases, aims to address public concerns, reflect open justice and promote public confidence in justice," said Sun Jungong, SPC spokesperson.

The report also mentions the prominent case of Huang Songyou, the former SPC vice president who was sentenced on Jan. 19 to life imprisonment for taking bribes and embezzlement.

Further, the report indicates that the number of civilian jurors increased from 57,000 to 77,000 in 2009 and their opinions were taken into account in some 632,000 cases, up 25.1 percent year on year.

"The people's courts at all levels highly values the efforts of civilian jurors in solving social conflicts and have been striving to introduce 'civilian wisdom' into the country's judicial work," said the report.

According to the SPC, the court will solicit public opinions regarding the report and the work of people's courts in order to "scan for work deficiencies and better implement the principle of judicial openness."

Such a report will be released regularly every year.
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