People's Court Rules for Conducting Pretrial Conferences in Criminal Cases (Provisional)

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Title: The Supreme People's Court Notice on the Release of the "People's Court Rules for Conducting Pretrial Conferences in Criminal Cases (Provisional)" , "People's Court Rules for Handling the Exclusion of Illegal Evidence in Criminal Cases (Provisional)" and the "People's Court Rules for Handling Courtroom Investigation of in First-instance Criminal Trials Under the Ordinary Procedures (Provisional)".
Promulgating Entities:Supreme People's Court
Reference number: 法发〔2017〕31号
Promulgation Date: 2017-11-27
Expiration date: 
Source of text: http://www.court.gov.cn/fabu-xiangqing-75652.html\

These rules are formulated on the basis of provisions of law combined with actual judicial experience, so as to implement the Supreme People's Court, Supreme People's Procuratorate, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of State Security, and Ministry of Justice 'Opinions on Advancing the Trial-centered Reforms of the Criminal Procedure System", to improve pretrial conference procedures, to ensure concentrated and continuous trial at court, and to raise the quality and efficiency of hearings.

Article 1: Pople's courts applying the ordinary procedures to hear criminal cases may decide to convene a pretrial conference before beginning the trial in cases that have a larger amount of evidence, have circumstances that are difficult or complicated, have a larger social impact or where the the the prosecution and defense have larger disagreements over the facts and evidence, or have other such circumstances,
The prosecution and defense may apply to the people's court to convene a pretrial conference. Where applying for a pretrial conference, they shall explain the matters that need to be handled. Where upon review the people's courts find there is a need, they shall convene a pretrial conference; and where they decide not to convene a pretrial conference, they shall inform the applicant.

Where defendants and their defenders apply for the exclusion of illegal evidence before court opens for trial, and provide leads or materials in accordance with the relevant legal provisions, the people's courts shall convene a pretrial conference.

Article 2: During the pretrial conference the people's courts may learn about issues related to trial, hear opinions, and lawfully handle matters that might might interrupt the trial such as recusals,the list of witnesses to appear in court, and exclusion of illegal evidence;and may organize the prosecution and defense presentation of evidence, detect key areas of contention, and carry out mediation of attached civil matters.

Article 3: The pretrial conference is to be presided over by the presiding judge, and other collegial panel members may also preside over or participate in pretrial conferences. Based on the circumstances of the case, the presiding judge may also guide a judges' assistant to preside over the pretrial conference.

The public prosecutor and defender shall participate in the pretrial conference. Based on the circumstances of the case, the defendant may participate in the pretrial conference; and in situations such as where the defendant applies to participate in the pretrial conference or applies for the exclusion of illegal evidence, the people's courts shall notify the defendant to appear; in cases where there is more than one defendant, the person presiding may determine the defendants who will participate in the pretrial conference on the basis of the case circumstances.

Where defendants apply for the exclusion of illegal evidence, but do not have a defender, the people's courts shall inform the legal aid institution to appoint a lawyer to provide the defendant with assistance.

Where mediation of attached civil matters is conducted during the pretrial conference, the people's courts shall inform the parties to the attached civil litigation to appear.

Article 4: Where the defendant does not participate in the pretrial conference, the defender shall hear the opinions of the defendant on the matters to be handled at the pretrial conference before the pretrial conference is convened.

Article 5: Pretrial conferences are usually not to be conducted publicly.

On the basis of the circumstances of the case, the pretrial conference may be conducted by employing methods such as video conferencing.

Article 6: On the basis of the circumstances of the case, pretrial conferences may be convened several times before beginning trial; and pretrial conferences may be convened again after an adjournment.

Article 7: Pretrial conferences shall be convened in the courtroom or other case-handling venue. Where a defendant who is in custody participates, it may be convened in the detention center handling the case.

Where defendants participate in pretrial conferences, there shall be court police present.

Article 8: On the basis of the circumstances of the case, the people's courts shall synthesize the prosecution and defense opinions, determine the matters that need to be handled at a pretrial conference, and inform the participants of matters such as the time, place, personnel, and matters for the pretrial conference, three days before the pretrial conference is to convene. This notice shall be noted in the case.

Where defendants and their defenders apply for the exclusion of illegal evidence before court opens for trial, the people's court shall send a copy of the written application and relevant leads or materials to the people's procuratorate three days before convening a pretrial conference.

Article 9: After the pretrial conference begins, the persons presiding shall verify the participants, and announce the matters that need to be handled at the pretrial conference. Where there are several defendants participating in the pretrial conference involving questions of facts and evidence, it shall be organized so that the defendants participate separately to prevent collusion.

Article 10: During the pretrial conference, the persons presiding may learn of the circumstances and hear opinions from the prosecution and defense on the following matters:

(1) Whether there is any objection to the case's jurisdiction;

(2) Whether there is an application to recuse relevant personnel;

(3) Whether there is an application to not have an open trial;

(4) Whether there is an application to exclude illegal evidence;

(5) Whether there is an application to provide new evidence materials;

(6) Whether there is an application for a new evaluation or inspection;

(7) Whether there is an application to collect evidence gathered during the investigation or during the review for prosecution from public security organs or people's procuratorates that has not yet been transferred and which shows that the defendant is innocent or that the crime was minor;

(8) Whether there is an application to collect or gather evidence materials from witnesses or relevant units and individuals;

(9) Whether there is an application for witnesses, expert evaluators, investigators, or persons with specialized knowledge to appear in court, and whether there are objections to the list of persons to appear in court;

(10) Other issues relevant to the trial.

The people's courts shall lawfully make a disposition as to the matters described in the preceding paragraph that might lead to an interruption of trial, and announce the disposition decision and explain the reasoning before beginning the trial. Where the prosecution and defense raise relevant applications or objections again at trial without a new grounds, the court shall lawfully reject them.

Article 11: Defendants and their defenders raising objections to the case jurisdiction shall explain their reasoning. Where upon review the people's court finds that the objection is sustained, they shall remand the case to the people's procuratorate in accordance with law, or transfer it to a people's court with jurisdiction; where it is found that the court is not appropriate to exercise jurisdiction, they may request that the people's court at the level above handle it. Where upon review the people's courts find the reasoning is not sustained, they shall reject the objection in accordance with law.

Article 12: Where defendants and their defenders apply for the recusal of adjudicators, court reporters, interpreters, or evaluators, they shall explain the grounds. Where upon review the people's courts find that the application is sustained, they shall make a decision to recuse the relevant personnel in accordance with law; where they find the application is not sustained, they shall lawfully reject the application.

Where defendants' and their defenders' applications for recusals are rejected, they may apply once for a reconsideration after receiving the decision. After applications for recusal are rejected as not within the circumstances provided for in Criminal Procedure Law articles 28 or 29, a reconsideration may not be applied for.

Where defendants and their defenders apply for the recusal of pocurators, the people's court shall inform the people's procuratorate.

Article 13: Where defendants and their defenders apply to for trial to not be public, and the upon review the people's court finds that the case involves state secrets or personal privacy, they shall permit it; where they find the case involves commercial secrets, they may permit it.

Article 14: Where defendants and their defenders apply for the exclusion of illegal evidence before court opens for trial, and provide leads or materials in accordance with the relevant legal provisions, the people's people's procuratorate shall use methods such as presenting relevant evidence during the pretrial conference to explain the legality of the evidence collection in a focused manner. The people's courts may conduct verification of the relevant evidence materials; and upon the application of the prosecution and defense, may play the audio and video recordings of the interrogation in a focused manner.

The people's procuratorate may withdraw the relevant evidence; and evidence that is withdrawn must not be presented in court absent new grounds. Defendants or their defenders may withdraw applications for the exclusion of illegal evidence, and after the withdrawal of the application, they must not again submit an application for the exclusion of the relevant evidence, absent new leads or materials.

Where the prosecution and defense fail to reach consensus on the legality of evidence collection at pretrial conference, the people's court shall carry out courtroom investigation, but where the evidence provided by prosecution is credible and sufficient and can rule out circumstances of illegal evidence gathering, and where there are no new leads or evidence showing that there might be illegal collection of evidence, the presentation and debate of evidence in courtroom investigation may be simplified.

Article 15: Applications for new evaluations or inspections by the prosecution and defense shall explain the grounds. Where upon review the people's courts find that the applications grounds are sustained, and that the relevant evidence materials might impact the verdict and sentencing and cannot be supplemented and corrected, they shall permit it.

Article 16: Where defendants and their defenders apply in writing to collect evidence materials showing that the defendant is not guilty or that the crime was minor, which were gathered by the public security organs or people's procuratorates during the periods for investigation or review for prosecution but were not transferred with the case,and they provide relevant leads and materials, the people's courts shall collect it and inform the people's procuratorate to submit it within 3 days of receiving the collection decision.

Defendants and their defenders applying to gather or collect evidence materials from witnesses or relevant units and individuals, shall explain the grounds. Where upon review the people's courts find that the relevant evidence materials might impact the verdict or sentencing, they shall permit it; and where finding that the relevant evidence materials are unrelated to the case or clearly duplicative and unnecessary, they may decide to not grant permission.

Article 17: Applications by the prosecution and defense for witnesses, expert evaluators, investigators, or persons with specialized knowledge to appear in court shall explain their grounds. Where upon review the people's courts find the grounds are sustained, they shall notify the relevant persons to appear in court.

Where the prosecution and defense have objections to the list of witnesses, expert evaluators, investigators, and persons with specialized knowledge appearing in court, and upon review the people's court finds that the objection is sustained, the court shall handle it in accordance with law; and where the objections are not sustained, shall reject it in accordance with law.

After the people's court notifies witnesses, expert evaluators, investigators, or persons with specialized knowledge to appear in court, they shall inform the prosecution and defense to assist in the relevant personnel appearing.

Article 18: Before the pretrial conference is convened, the people's procuratorate shall transfer all evidence materials to the people's court. Defendants and their defenders shall submit all evidence materials they have collected which shows that is not guilty or does not bear criminal liability to the people's court, such as alibis, having not reached the age of criminal liability, or being a mentally ill person who does not lawfully bear criminal responsibility.

After people's courts receive the evidence materials transferred or submitted by the prosecution and defense, they shall notify the other side to read, copy, and reproduce it.

Article 19: During the pretrial conference, people's courts may organize presentation of evidence by the prosecution and defense at trial, may hear the prosecution and defense's comments on the case evidence, and tease out evidence that is in contention.i

For evidence that the prosecution and defense did not dispute at the pretrial conference., presentation and debate may be simplified at trial.

Where people's courts organize the presentation of evidence, they shall usually notify the defendant to be present, and hear the defendant's opinions; where the defendant is not present, the defender shall hear the defendant's opinions before the pretrial conference is convened.

Article 20: The people's court may identify the key points of controversy during the pretrial conference. For matters on which the prosecution and defense have no dispute or have reached consensus on, simplified hearings may be conducted at court.

People's courts may organize the prosecution and defense discussions to determine the matters such as the order and methods of presentation of evidence at trial,and clarify the methods and focus of court investigation. The people's courts are to determine matters where no agreement is reached through discussion.

Article 21: In cases where the defendant does not admit guilt before the pretrial conference but does so during the pretrial conference, after the people's courts verify that the voluntariness and truthfulness of the defendant's admission of guilt, they may lawfully use the expedited procedures or simplified procedures at trial.

Article 22: After people's courts hear the opinions of the prosecution and defense on case facts and evidence, they may suggest that the people's procuratorate supplement the materials or withdraw the prosecution where it is clear that the facts are unclear or the evidence is insufficient. Where withdrawal of a prosecution is recommended, but the people's procuratorate does not agree, the people's court will ordinarily not approve withdrawal of the prosecution after opening court for trial, where there are no new facts or reasons.

Article 23: A record shall be made of pretrial conferences, and the participants should sign it after verifying it.

After the pretrial conference concludes, a pretrial conference report shall be drafted explaining the basic circumstances of the pretrial conference, the outcomes of issues related to trial that were handled; and key areas of dispute between the prosecution and defense, as well as matters on which they have reached a consensus opinion and so forth.

Article 24: In cases convening a pretrial conference, after the indictment is read, the court shall announce the main content of the pretrial conference report; in cases where there are several criminal acts, the relevant content of the pretrial conference report may be read separately before the court investigation on each criminal instance begins; where the pretrial conference handled matters such as objections to jurisdiction, applications for recusal, applications to not have public trial and so forth, the court may announce the relevant content of the pretrial conference after informing the parties of their procedural rights.

Article 25: After announcing pretrial conference report, the court shall confirm the matters on which consensus was reached after verifying with the prosecution and defense; and for matters where consensus was not reached, the court may identify the points of contention, hear the opinions of the prosecution and defense and handle it in accordance with law.

Where the prosecution and defense reached consensus on relevant matters during the pretrial conference but recant at trial, the court will usually not conduct further handling without legitimate reason.

Article 26: Where the people's court for the second-instance trial convenes a pretrial conference, consult the provisions above.

Article 27: These Provisions take provisional effect from January 1, 2018.

 
 
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