People's Assessor System Reform Pilot Implementation Measures

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Title: Supreme People's Court and Ministry of Justice Notice on the Issuance of the "People's Assessor System Reform Pilot Implementation Measures"

Promulgating Entities:Supreme People's Court, the Ministry of Justice

Reference number: Legal [2015] No. 132

Promulgation Date: 2015-5-20

Expiration date:

Source of text: People's Court Daily May 22, 2015 Page 3

 

Supreme People's Court and Ministry of Justice Notice on the Issuance of the "People's Assessor System Reform Pilot Implementation Measures"

Supreme People's Court, the Ministry of Justice

Supreme People's Court and Ministry of Justice Notice on the Issuance of the "People's Assessor System Reform Pilot Implementation Measures"

Legal [2015] No. 132

Higher People's Courts and Justice Departments (bureaus) of Beijing, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Jiangsu, Fujian, Shandong, Henan, Guangxi, Chongqing, and Shaanxi,

These "People's Assessor System Reform Pilot Implementation Measures" are drafted on the basis fo the "People's Assessor System Reform Pilot Plan" jointly released by the Supreme People's Court and Ministry of Justice (Law [2015] No. 100) and collective work experience, so as to implement The 18th Party Central Committee's third and fourth plenary sessions' deployments for reform of the people's assessor system, and to ensure that work on the people's assessor system reform pilots proceeds prudently and orderly. This document is hereby issued to you; please earnestly organize its implementation. Please promptly report any problems encountered in the course of implementation to the Supreme People's Court and Ministry of Justice.

Supreme People's Court, the Ministry of Justice

May 20, 2015

In order to advance judicial democracy, to promote judicial fairness, to ensure that the people participate orderly in the justice system, and to elevate the public trust of the people's assessor system and the justice system, based on the actualities of adjudication work, these Measures are hereby formulated in accordance with the "People's Assessor System Reform Pilot Plan" passed by the 11th Plenary Meeting of he Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reform and the "Decision to Authorize Some Regions to Conduct People's Assessor System Pilot Reform Work" passed by the 14th Meeting of the Standing Committee of the 12th National People's Congress.

Article 1: Citizens serving as people's assessors shall have the following qualifications:

(1) Uphold the Constitution of the People's Republic of China;

(2) Have the right to elect and to be elected,

(3) Be at least 28 years old;

(4) Have good conduct and be moral and just;

(5) Be in good health.

Those serving as a people's assessor, shall usually have a high school education or higher, but in rural regions and remote impoverished regions, respectable persons will not be subject to this restriction.

Article 2: People's assessors have rights such as the right to participate in trial activities, to independently express opinions and to receive safeguards for performing their duty.

People's assessors shall loyally perform their duty to try cases, protect state secrets and trail work secrets, impartially judge and must not bend the law for personal gain.

Article 3: The following persons cannot serve as people's assessors:

(1) Members of the standing committees of people's congresses, staff of people's courts, people's procuratorates, public security organs, national security organs, and justice administration organs;

(2) Practicing lawyers, grass-root legal service workers, and other people working in the legal service sector;

(3) People unsuitable to serve as people's assessors due to other reasons.

Article 4: The following persons must not serve as people's assessors:

(1) Those who have received criminal penalties for having committed a crime;

(2) Those who have been dismissed from public office;

(3) Those who have been entered by a people's court into the blacklist for those failing to perform on a court judgment;

(4) Those who have been excused from duties as a people's assessor because of receiving a punishment.

Article 5: On the basis of the court's case numbers and assessor work situation, basic level people's courts determine a quota of people's assessors not less than 3 times the number of judges sitting in that court, and courts with a relatively high number of cases for assessors, may also set the quota of people's assessors at 5 time or more the number of judges in the court. Intermediate people's courts reasonably determine numerical quotas for people's assessor for that court on the basis of the number of cases for assessors and other actual circumstances.

During the pilot period, where courts have not yet implemented the judicial personnel ratio reforms, the ration for judges will be temporarily set at the central legal committee special allotment of 39%.

People's assessors selected before pilot project work begins shall calculated into the quota for people's assessors.

Article 6: Every 5 years, people's courts will randomly select more than five times the numerical quota of judges of people from the electorate or long term resident lists to serve as candidates for people's assessor, and establish a databank of people's assessors.

Local voter lists refers to the voter list confirmed by the people's congress at the same level as the people's court's jurisdiction. Local long-term resident lists refer to the list of long term residents from the household registration organs registry at the same level as the people's court's jurisdiction. Intermediate people's courts for directly governed municipalities may refer to the local voter's list and long term resident list corresponding to a case's jurisdictional scope.

Article 7: People's courts, together with the judicial-administrative organs at the same level, conduct a review of the credentials of the people's assessor candidate list and solicit comments from the candidates. When necessary, people's courts may, together with the judicial-administrative organs at the same level, may hear the comments of citizens' work units or basic-level organizations for their place of household registration or long-term residence.

Article 8: People's courts, together with the judicial-administrative organs of the same level, randomly selects people's assessors from the list of candidates that have passed a qualifications review, and the court president submits this to the Standing Committee of the people's congress for appointments. People's courts shall notify people's assessors of the decision to appoint them and send a copy of the appointment list to the judicial-administrative organ at the same level, and report up to the High People's Court for recording, and at the same time make a public announcement. Related judicial-administrative organs shall report the appointment list up to the provincial level judicial-administrative organs for recording.

Article 9: People's courts shall establish a people's assessors database, create a registry of people's assessors and send a copy to the judicial-administrative organs at the same level.

On the basis of people's assessors professional backgrounds, people's courts may combine the major types of cases tried by the court and establish a specialized people's assessor database.

Article 10: Selection of people's assessors is done once every 5 years. Where, the number of people's assessors becomes less than 3 times the number of judges, due to people's assessors withdrawal or other reasons, or where necessary for trial work, the number of people's assessors may be supplemented appropriately. Procedures for supplementing should refer to the selection procedures.

Article 11: Those selected as people's assessors shall take a joint public oath.

Article 12: First-instance trials accepted by the people's courts, shall apply people's assessor system at trial, except where law provides that a single judge or a collegial panel of judges shall hear the case.

In any of the following circumstances, first-instance trials shall in principle be tried by a collegial panel of judges and people's assessors:

(1) Criminal, administrative or civil cases that involve group interests or societal public interest, that have the widespread attention of the masses or have a larger social impact;

(2) Criminal cases where a sentence of more than 10 years or life might be given;

(3) Major cases involving land requisition and demolitions or food and drug safety.

Where, in the cases listed in the preceding paragraphs, a party applies to not have the case tried by the people's assessor system because it involves personal information, commercial secrets, or for other reasons, the people's court may decide to not apply the people's assessor system at trial.

Article 13: First-instance trial defendants in criminal trials, parties in civil cases, and plaintiffs in administrative cases have the right to apply for people's assessors to participate in the collegial panel at trial. Where after people's courts receive an application, a decision is made upon review to apply the people's assessor system to try the case, a collegial panel with people's assessors participating shall be be formed to conduct trial.

Article 14: People's courts shall synthesize the actual conditions in their jurisdictional region and reasonably determine the maximum number of cases that a people's assessor will participate in annually, and make a public announcement.

Article 15: Where the people's assessor system is used for first-instance major criminal cases, administrative cases or civil cases, in principle the number of people's assessors participating in the collegial panel shall be 2 or more.

Article 16: People's assessors participating in a collegial panel to try cases shall be determined by random selection before court opens.

As needed for trial of a case, people's courts may randomly select an appropriate number of alternate people's assessors and determine the order of replacements.

Article 17: Parties have the right to apply for people's assessors to be recused. Recusal of people's assessors, is enforced with reference to the provisions on recusal of judges.

Where recusal of people's assessors is reviewed and sustained, people's courts shall promptly identify an alternate to fill the vacancy.

Article 18: People's courts shall inform people's assessors of their relevant rights and duties before holidng court proceedings, and provide conditions to facilitate their reading the case file.

Article 19: During the course of trial, people's assessors have the right to participate in case investigation and mediation efforts in accordance with law. Upon the consent of the chief judge, people's assessors may organize the parties of both sides to conduct mediation when court is adjourned.

Article 20: Where the people's assessor system is applied to try a case, after trial is complete, the chief judge shall promptly organize the collegial panel to deliberate the case. Where it is truly difficult to immediately deliberate, the reason for delaying deliberations shall be noted in the case file.

Article 21: When the collegial panel is deliberating, the chief judge shall propose that the people's assessors express opinions rotating around the determination of case facts, and give necessary explanation as to the competency of evidence, evidence rules, litigation procedures and other issues or matters for attention, but must not interfere with the people's assessors independent judgement of the facts of the case.

Article 22: People's assessors shall participate in the full course of deliberations, and independently express opinions and vote on the determination of case facts. People's assessors may express opinions on the application of law in the case, but do not participate in votes.

Article 23: Before the collegial panel deliberates a case, the chief judge shall summarize and explain fact issues in the case that need to be deliberated and decided upon, and when necessary may make a detailed written list of fact issues in the case.

When the collegial panel deliberates a case, people's assessors will usually first express opinions.

People's assessors and judges are jointly responsible for determining case facts, if there is a difference of opinions, the majority opinion shall be followed in making a determination, but a note shall be made of the minority opinion. If there are major discrepencies between the judges' and the majority people's assessors' opinion on and it is felt that the majority opinion would determine facts contrary to evidence rules, and might cause a mistake in the application of law, the case may be given to the court president to decide or to the adjudication committee for discussion. In cases that are submitted to the adjudication committee for discussion, the adjudication committee's reasoning for its decision shall be clearly stated in the judgment opinion.

Article 24: people's assessors shall earnestly read the deliberation notes and sign it after verifying that there are no mistakes. People's assessors shall verify that the portion of the draft judgment opinion's conclusion on verification of facts and sign it.

Article 25: Where people's assessors participate in collegial panels to try cases, they shall sign their name on the as a member of the collegial panel on the judgment opinion.

Article 26: In any of the following circumstances, where it is confirmed by the court they are in and the judicial-administrative organ of the same level, people's assessors shall request the standing committee of the people's congress at that level remove them from the position of people's assessor.

(1) Where they have difficulty performing their trial duties due to reasons such as their age, illness, occupation or lives, and apply to the people's court to leave the position of people's assessor;

(2) Those who have been deprived of their rights to vote and stand for election;

(3) Those who have received a criminal penalty for committing a crime, been removed from public office or been entered into the blacklist of those failing to perform on a court judgment.

(4) Those serving as a functionary listed in Article 3 of these Measures;

(5) Other circumstances where serving as a people's assessor is inappropriate.

Where people's assessors are removed from service, people's courts shall notify them of decision to remove them from service, and send a copy of the removals list to the judicial-administrative organ at the same level, and report up to the High People's Court for recording, and at the same time make a public announcement. Related judicial-administrative organs shall report the removals list up to the provincial level judicial-administrative organs for recording.

Article 27: In any of the following circumstances, where it is confirmed by the court they are in and the judicial-administrative organ of the same level, in addition to following procedures to removing people's assessors from the position, punishments may be given by means such as making a public announcement with the jurisdiction or entering a negative record in the personal credibility system, where a crime is constituted, transfer it to the relevant departments in accordance with law for pursuit of criminal responsibility.

(1) Where false information was provided during the verification of credentials to be a people's assessor;

(2) Where they have refused to perform the duties of people's assessors three times within the last year;

(3) Where they leaked state secrets or trial work secrets;

(4) Where they abused the office of people's assessor to solicit or accept bribes;

(5) Where they act as litigation brokers and recommend lawyers, assessment or appraisal intermediary agencies to litigants;

(6) Where they abuse their power, and engage in malfeasance for personal gain;

(7) Where there was other conduct harming the credibiliyt of people's assessors or judicial fairness.

Article 28: The people's courts together with the judicial-administrative organs of the same level are responsible for daily management of people's assessors' work, such as their selection, training, performance evaluation, commendation and sanctioning.

People's courts and the judicial-administrative organs of the same level shall improve the form and key content of training for people's assessors on the basis of performance requirements during the pilot period. The High People's Courts together with the provincial level judicial-administrative organs are responsible for formulating discrete, specific training systems.

People's courts together with the judicial-administrative organs shall improve accompanying mechanisms and construct techological platforms to improve people's assessor information management systems, random selection, case participation balance nd feedback systems.

Article 29: The fees necessary for carrying out the people's assessor system are entered into the operating costs budgets of the people's courts and judicial-administrative organs to provide assurances.

Where due to their participation in training or trial activities, people's assessors are dismissed by their work units or have their salary, benefits or compensation reduced, the people's courts and judicial administrative organs will issue a corrective opinion to the people assessor's work unit or the competent management department at the level above the work unit.

People's' courts and judicial administrative organs must not disclose people's assessors' residences and other personal information to the public. When there is a threat to people's assessors' person or property, they may request the people's courts or judicial administrative organs adopt appropriate protective measures.

Where conduct undermining the people's assessor system constitutes a crime, it shall be transferred to the relevant departments to be pursued for criminal liability in accordance with law.

Article 30: The requirements and procedures for residents of Hong Kong and Macao serving as people's assessors are provided for separately.

Article 31: Pilot courts together with judicial-administrative organs of the same level, formulate specific work plans and make system provisions on the basis of the "people's assessor system reform pilot plan" and these Measures as well as actual work conditions. Specific work plans are to be sent to the Supreme People's Court and the Ministry of Justice before May 30, 2015 for recording after being consolidated by the relevant high courts and provincial level judicial administrative organs.

Pilots begin in May 2015 and will last two years, with the precondition that pilot courts together with the judicial administrative organs of the same level, formulate an implementation plan, revise current regulations, and formulate mechanism linkages well. Prior to April 2016, the pilot courts and judicial administrative organs shall make interim reports upward through each level up to the Supreme People's Court and the Ministry of Justice.

Article 32: These measures apply only to pilot courts in the 10 provinces (autonomous regions and directly controlled municipalities) of Beijing, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Jiangsu, Fujian, Shandong, Henan, Guangxi, Chongqing, Shaanxi (a specific list is attached below).

Article 33: The Supreme People's Court and the Ministry of Justice are responsible for the interpretation of these Measures.

Article 34: These Measures shall be reported to the Standing Committee of the National of the National People's Congress for recording, and take effect on the day they are issued; where previously released provisions on the people's assessor system do not accord with these Measures, follow these Measures in implementation.

 

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