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More information on the Courts’ 4th 5-yr Plan

Source: (有所调整)

First, Deepening Reforms of Court Personnel Management

1. Coordinate reforms for the unified management of court personnel at the provincial level, promoting the establishment of judicial selection committees at the provincial level which will put forward judicial candidates from a professional perspective; to be reviewed for traits such as political character, integrity and self-discipline by the personnel and disciplinary inspection departments; and with appointments and dismissals made by the people's congress in accordance with laws.

2. Advance reforms for the system of management of personnel by category, dividing court personnel into judges, adjudication assistants and judicial administrative staff for categorical management. Ancillary to this, is broadening the sources of judicial support staff, and the establishment of mechanisms for regular addition of judicial support staff, reducing the work burden on judges.

3. Establish a quota system for judges, establishing specified numbers of judges in drafting the allotment quotas, so as to ensure that judges are principally concentrated at trial, and there is adequate high quality talent available for trial.

4. Improve mechanisms for grading and promoting judges, to ensure that frontline case-handling personnel can be promoted to higher levels of judicial office even if they haven't undertaken leadership roles.

5. Improve systems for the selection of judges, with different requirements for judicial posts at different level courts.Judges' first posts should be taken at a basic level people's court and judges for higher courts will be, in principle, selected from those at the court one level below.

Second, Exploring the establishment of judicial jurisdictions appropriately separate from administrative divisions.

To maintain the uniformity of national laws, and to optimize the allocation of judicial resources, the Plan makes arrangements for the establishment of a judicial jurisdiction system appropriately separate from administrative divisions. The main measures include:

1. On the side of the jurisdictional system, use systems for designated jurisdiction and having jurisdiction at a higher level to ensure that administrative cases, civil commercial cases spanning regions and environmental protection cases receive fair trial.

2. On the court management side, solidify the success of the railroad-transport courts management system to uniformly bring the forestry and agricultural reclamation courts into the national court management system; and reform the systems for department and enterprise management courts.

3. On the side of institutional set-up, in areas which have a high concentration of major, difficult or complicated cases, establish a work mechanism for the courts above to send out circuit courts.Further promote the establishment environmental resources tribunals.

4. On the side of court set-up, promote the establishment of intellectual property courts in areas with a high concentration of intellectual property cases.

Third, Improving operating mechanisms for the adjudication powers.

"Letting those hearing a case judge it, and letting those who judge a case be responsible for it," is an objective requirement of judicial order. In recent years, the judicial organs have done much active exploration so as to improve the operating mechanisms for the adjudication power, and have achieved some degree of success, but problems still remain, such as the unclear internal layers of approval, and responsibility for case-handling. In response to these problems, the "4th 5-yr plan" has made improving the system of case-handling responsibility between the presiding judge and the collegial panel a key component in promoting operating mechanisms for the adjudication power that clarify and integrate rights and obligations, and have orderly oversight and complete accompanying measures.

In terms of improving the system for trial responsibility, the major reform measures can be summarized as follows:

1. Improve the mechanism for trials by a presiding judge and collegial panel.Judges of good political quality, strong case-handling capabilities, with high levels of professionalism and rich judicial experience should serve as presiding judges, as judges hearing a case alone, or as or the chief judge of a collegial panel.Improve mechanisms for the collegial panel members participation, restraint and supervision of case-file review, trial and discussion.

2. Reform mechanisms for the drafting and release of written judgments, where the judgments of a single judge hearing a case independently will no longer be signed and released by the court president or division head.

3. Establish a scientific and rational, objective and impartial performance evaluation system for judges consistent with the law, realizing the effective convergence of mechanisms for judges' evaluation, accountability, discipline and termination.

4. Scientifically delineate the responsibility of collegial panel members, both ensuring their independent expression of idea and also making clear their responsibility for their own opinions and performance in the course of resolving a case.

5. Establish a disciplinary system for judges, setting up a judicial disciplinary committee that will both ensure that violations of discipline or law by judges will receive prompt punishment, and also ensuring judges' procedural rights such as to make explanations, raise evidence, apply for a reconsideration.

The responsibility systems for presiding judges and collegial panels, are in no way opposed against the systems for court presidents and division chiefs checks and oversight of trial. In order to ensure justice, the "4th 5-yr plan" proposes to further improve mechanisms for trial supervision and checks, with the main measures including:

1. On a foundation of strengthening the establishment of specialized collegial panels, create a system for assigning cases where case distribution is usually random and only sometimes designated, and establish a system for the internal announcement of case assignments.

2. Where there is a change in the trial organization or judges undertaking the case, an announcement shall be made and the reasons explained.

3. Regulate systems for the review, reporting and approval of modifications to trial procedures or time limits.

4. Regulate the supervision systems of major, difficult or complicated cases by the court president and division heads, establish a system for storing documents produced during a court president or division head's supervision activities in the case file.

5. Employ modern information methodology to establish systems of mutual checks and mutual supervision that leave full records for judges and collegial panels exercising their adjudication power and for court presidents and division chiefs exercising their supervision powers; To ensure that supervision is neither lacking nor overreaching, supervision must leave a trail, and there must be accountability for failure to perform.

Fourth, Increasing the strength of judicial protections of human rights.

To strengthen judicial protections of citizens' personal rights, property rights and procedural rights, the "4th 5-yr Plan" proposes to establish and perfect trial mechanisms centered around in-court proceedings, to effectively bring into play the role of trial in restraining and guiding investigation and prosecution, ensuring judicial fairness.

1. Strictly implement the exclusionary rule to further clarify the procedures and standards for excluding illegal evidence.

2. Establish mechanisms for careful review and prompt resolution of defendants' and convicts' explanations, appeals and complaints.Improve working mechanisms that emphasize lawyer's defense and representation opinions at trial.

3. Improve mechanisms for pursuing judicial accountability, and unify standards for verifying judicial fault.

4. Standardize judicial procedures for disposition of assets involved in the case, clarifying the scope, standards and procedures for people's courts' disposition of property involved in the case.

5. Further improve the fast handling mechanisms for very minor criminal cases.With authorization and supervision of the legislative bodies, orderly advance the reform of the rapid criminal trial procedures.

Fifth, further deepening judicial openness

Last year, the Supreme People's Court initiated the construction of the three major platforms for transparency, disclosure of the trial process, disclosure of judgment opinions and disclosure of enforcement information.On the basis of this previous work, the "4th 5-yr Plan" proposes even higher standards for deepening judicial openness.

1. Improve the system of open trials.Establish systems for trial publicity and for announcing information on and reserving observers' seats..Promote simultaneous audio or video recording of the entire trial process.Regulate the scope and procedures for direct broadcast of in-court proceedings through such means as pictures and video.

2. Improve trial information databases, facilitating the parties in obtaining infomation on case filing and the trial process beginning on the date the case is accepted.

3. Continue to strengthen the establishment of the Judicial Opinions of China Website, strictly following the requirement that 'disclosure is the principle, with non-disclosure as an exception, to realize the uniform public release of effective judicial opinions from all four levels of court, which should be made public, on the Judicial Opinions of China Website.

4. Integrate all enforcement information to facilitate parties' online understanding of enforcement works progress, and bringing about the effective interconnection of enforcement information platforms with all types of credit information platforms.

Sixth, Clarifying the duties and positions of the four levels of people's court.

To rationally situate the four levels of courts duties, the “4th 5-yr plan" proposes establishing a trail level system that is rationally positions, has clear functions, adequate supervision and effective operations.The main measures can be summarized as follows:

1. Further reform the system of stratified jurisdiction in civil commercial cases, gradually changing the method of primarily basing jurisdiction on the amount of the demand, so as to put the jurisdiction of the vast majority of ordinary first-instance civil commercial lawsuits in the basic level courts, assisting in the strengthening of the people's courts and the establishment of litigation services centers, strengthening the basic level people's courts function in resolving conflicts.

2. Standardize the supervisory relationship between higher and lower courts on trial levels.Improve the system for jurisdiction at higher levels, clarifying the requirements, scope and procedures for the jurisdiction of first-instance cases being transferred to a higher level court, fully bringing into play the work of the intermediate and high people's courts in providing guidance of trial of types of cases through elevated jurisdiction of major, difficult, complicated and new types of cases; and ensuring their function in unifying the application of law , and minimizing the room for requests for guidance (from lower courts to higher courts).

3. Reform court evaluation mechanisms; abolish evaluation measures which have no actual value, cancel the rankings by violations of judicial discipline, and eliminate the administratiiveness between different levels of people's court.

4. Promote reform of the Supreme People's Court's internal institutional reforms, establishing a new model of institutional setup that is truly matches the legal function of the Supreme People's Court. At the same time, the Supreme People's Court will also establish mechanisms for turning judgments it makes into guiding cases, fully bringing about its roles of ensuring the correct and unified implementation of law and preserving the uniformity of the nations' laws.

Seventh, Completing safeguard mechanisms for judicial administrative matters

Based on the judicial power's nature as a central power, "the 4th 5-yr Plan" introduces a series of reform initiatives for completing safeguard mechanisms for judicial administrative matters.

1. Coordinating with the relevant departments of the central authorities, promote the reform of mechanisms for the unified management of local court expenses at the provincial level.

2. Managing according to the strict separation of income and expenditures, local courts of all levels' litigation costs, fines, confiscated assets, as well as recovered criminal proceeds, will uniformly be handed over to the provincial state treasury.

3. Promote reform of internal court institutions.Establish a model of institutional structuring and personnel allotment with serving trial work as its core.Improve working mechanisms for the people's courts purchasing of social services. In principle, any routine managerial services should be brought into a competitive mechanism, purchased from society through means such as contracts or retainer.

4. Deepen the reform of judicial statistics, with the idea of "big data, big patterns, big service" as a guide, establish a judicial big data center.

Eighth, Promoting the reform of petitioning involving litigation.

The "4th 5-yr plan" puts forward the separation of petitioning and litigation mechanisms, and the finality and order of methods for resolving petitioning related to litigation. The main measures are:

1. Improve mechanisms for the separation of petitioning and litigaton work, clarifying the standards, scope and procedures for separating litigation and petitioning.

2. Establish mechanisms for steering and receiving petitioners at their source, and innovation networks for handling petitioning.

3. Explore the establishment of mechanisms for lawyers to participate as third-parties, increasing the diversity of joined forces for resolving conflicts in petitioning related to litigation.

4. Promote the improvement of the judicial assistance system, look into putting forward a People's Court Justice Assistance Implementing Rules, to bring about judicial assistance's active role in supporting the public and resolving conflicts.

Following the release of the "4th 5-yr Plan", the Supreme Court will be putting foward a plan for supporting its implementation, clarifying with departments will take the lead and participate in each reform measure, rationally determining the route and timetable, establishing overall systems for briefings, supervision, inspection, and evaluations; until each reform task has its deployment, supervision, review and safeguards to ensure that each task is completed without pause or error.

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