Provisions on Completing and Improving Work Mechanisms for the People's Courts' Adjudication Committees.

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Promulgation Date: 2019-8-2
Title:最高人民法院关于健全完善人民法院审判委员会工作机制的意见
[Document Number]法发〔2019〕20号
Expiration date: 颁布单位】Supreme People's Court
Source of text: https://www.chinacourt.org/law/detail/2019/09/id/149972.shtml

These Opinions are forumulate on the basis of the Organic Law of the People's Courts, the Criminal Procedure Law, the Civil Procedure Law, the Administrative Litigation Law, and other laws and judicial interpretations together with the actual conditions of work in the people's courts, so as to truly implement the Party Central Committee's overall arrangements for the reform of deepening the judicial system's comprehensive accompanying measures, to establish and improve mechanisms for the adjudication committee's work, and further implement systems for judicial responsibility.

I. Basic Principles

1. Uphold Party leadership. Adhere to Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era as guidance, strengthening the 'four awarenesses' and solidfying the 'four self-confidences, achieving the '2 preservations' and persisting in the Party's absolute leadership of the work of the people's court, unwavering sticking to the path of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, establishing a fair, effective, and authoritative judicial system.

2.Implement The System of Democratic Centralism. Persist in carrying forward the organic integration of democracy and the correct implementation of centralism; establish and improve procedures and rules for adjudication committee affairs; ensure adjudication committee members' objective, just, independent, and fair expression of their opinions; prevent and overcome the problems of having meetings without decisions and decisions without implementation, to truly give play to the advantages of the System of Democratic Centralism.

3. Adhere to Judicial Rules. Optimize the membership of adjudication committees, rationally position functions, establish operations mechanisms for the adjudication committees, fully implement judicial responsibility systems, promote the establishment of work mechanisms in which there is clarity and uniformity in rights and responsibilities, high operational efficacy, and forceful oversight.

4. Uphold Judicial Fairness. Earnestly summarize experiences from reforms to the adjudication committee system, continuously improve work mechanisms, persist in having the facts as the basis and the law as their measure, persist in strict judicial fairness, persist in unifying procedural justice and substantive justice, give full play to the functions of the adjudication committees, strive to make it so that the masses feel feel judicial fairness from every case.

II. Organizational Structure

5. All levels of people's court are to establish adjudication committees. The adjudication committee is comprised of the court president, vice-presidents, and several senior judges, and shall have an odd number of members.

The adjudication committee may establish full-time members.

6. Meetings of the adjudication committee are divided into plenary meetings and special committee meetings.

The specialized committee meeting is a type of meeting format and working method of the adjudication committee. As required for trial work, intermediate people's courts and higher may convene specialized committee meetings, such as for criminal, civil, and administrative trials.

The members of the specialized committee meetings should be determined according to the specialty and division of work of adjudication committee members. Adjudication committee members may participate in different specialized committee meetings. The full membership of specialized committee meetings shall exceed 1/2 of the entire membership of the adjudication committee.

III. Role Positioning

7. The main functions of the adjudication committees are:

(1) Summarizing trial work experience;

(2) Discussing and deciding upon the application of law in major, difficult or complicated cases;

(3) Discussing and deciding whether there should be a retrial on already effective judgments, rulings, and mediation certificates;

(4) Discussing and deciding upon other major issues related to trial work.

The adjudication committee of the Supreme People's Court is to unify law through means such as adopting and drafting judicial interpretations and normative documents, and publishing guiding cases.

8. All levels of people's court hearing the following types of cases shall submit them to the adjudication committees for discussion and decision:

(1) Sensitive cases such as those involving national security, diplomacy, or social stability, and major, difficult or complicated cases.

(2) Cases where there is truly error in already effective judgments, rulings, and mediation certificates, requiring a retrial;

(3) Criminal cases where the people's procuratorate of the same level follows trial supervision procedures to raise a prosecutorial appeal;.

(4) New types of cases where rules for the application of law are unclear;

(5) Cases where it is proposed that defendants be found not guilty;

(6) Cases where it is proposed that a criminal punishment below the legally prescribed penalty be given, or that criminal penalties be waived;

High People's Court and Intermediate People's Court cases proposing a death sentence shall be submitted to the adjudication committee of that court for discussion and decision.

9. All levels of people's court hearing the following types of cases may submit them to the adjudication committees for discussion and decision:

(1) Cases where the collegial panel had larger differences of opinion as to the application of law, where it is difficult to make a decision upon deliberation by a professional (presiding) judges meeting.

(2) Cases where a proposed ruling might conflict with ruling in similar cases from that court or a higher court;

(3) In major, difficult, or complicated civil or administrative cases where the people's procuratorate follows trial supervision procedures to raise a prosecutorial appeal, the people's court accepting the appeal shall form a collegial panel for trial.

(4) Cases where a retrial or remand for new trial is ordered;

(5) Other cases that need to be submitted to the adjudication committee for discussion and decision.

IV. Operational Mechanisms

10. Where the collegial panel or single judge hearing a case find that the case needs to be submitted to the adjudication committee for discussion and decision, they are to submit an application and report it up to the court president for approval; and where an application is not submitted, but the court president finds it necessary, they may request that the adjudication committee deliberate and make a decision.

Where other matters are submitted to the adjudication committee for discussion and decision, proceed with reference to the procedures for submitting cases.

11. Cases proposed for submission to the adjudication committee for discussion and decision shall have comments from the research and deliberation of the professional (presiding) judges meeting.

Where the comments of the professional (presiding) judges meeting are inconsistent with the comments of the collegial panel or single judge hearing the case, the court president, court vice-presidents, or division chiefs may request, in accordance with trial oversight authority, that the collegial panel or single judge hearing the case reconsider; and where upon reconsideration the opinions of the professional (presiding) judges meeting are not adopted, procedures shall be followed to report it to the adjudication committee for discussion and decision.

12. The collegial panel shall put together a written report on cases submitted for discussion by the adjudication committee. The written report shall fully and objectively reflect the case facts, evidence, and opinions of the parties or the prosecution and defense, a clear listing of the issues on the application of law that require discussion and decision by the adjudication committee, the opinions of the professional (presiding) judges meeting, searches for similar or related cases, and the collegial panel's proposed disposition and grounds. Where there are differing opinions, consolidate the different opinions and their grounds.

Before other matters are submitted to the adjudication committee for discussion, the department handling them should submit opinions on the handling based on a foundation of earnest investigation, research, and soliciting opinions of relevant departments.

13. Adjudication committees' work departments may make an initial review of whether cases or matters submitted to the adjudication committee for discussion and decision are within the scope of the adjudication committee, issue an opinion, and report to the court president for a decision.

14. In cases that are submitted to the adjudication committee for discussion and decision where committee members must be recused, they shall recuse themselves and report this to the court president for a decision; recusal of the court president is to be decided upon by the adjudication committee.

Apply relevant provisions on situations for the recusal of adjudicators for the situations for recusal of adjudication committee members.

15. Members of the adjudication committee shall read the meeting materials in advance, and where necessary, may read relevant case files, documents, and courtroom audio-visual materials.

16. Adjudication committees convening plenary meetings and special committee meetings shall have at least half of the meetings' members present.

17. Plenary meetings of the adjudication committee and special committee meetings shall be presided over by the court president or a vice-president entrusted by the court president.

18. The following personnel shall sit in on [non-voting capacity] adjudication committee meetings:

(1) Members of the collegial panel or the single judge handling the cases, or the person handling the matter;

(2) The person responsible for the tribunal or department handling the case or matter;

(3) other persons the need to sit in.

When necessary, adjudication committees convening meetings may invite people's congress delegates, political consultative conference members, expert scholars, and so forth, to sit in.

With the consent of the person presiding, personnel that are sitting in may provide explanations and express opinions, but are not participate in voting.

19. When the adjudication committee holds a meeting, the chief procurator of the people's procuratorate of the same level, or a deputy chief procurator entrusted by them, may sit in.

20. Discussion and decision of cases or matters by the adjudication committees are generally conducted according to the following procedures:

(1) Report by the collegial panel or person handling the matter;

(2) Committee members conduct questioning on the relevant issues;

(3) Committee members express their opinions following the sequences of lowest to highest level of judge, with the person presiding being the last to express opinions;

(4) the persons gives a summary of the meeting, and the meeting makes a decision.

21. Plenary meetings of the adjudication committee and special committee meetings discussing cases and matters, ordinarily make a decision by the majority opinion of more than half of all members, and minority opinions shall be recorded in the file.

Where after discussion of a case or matter by a special committee meeting, they are unable to make a decision, or where the court president finds it is necessary, it may be submitted to the plenary meeting for discussion and decision.

Where after discussion of a case or matter by a special committee meeting and plenary meeting, the court president finds that it is necessary, they may request a reconsideration.

22. Decisions on cases or matters discussed by the adjudication committee shall be enforced by the collegial panel, single judge hearing a case, or the relevant department. Where the work departments of adjudication committees discover that result of case handling do not comport with the adjudication committees' decisions, they shall promptly report to the court president.

23. After the court president approves the minutes or decision of the adjudication committee, it is to be sent to the adjudication committee members, and relevant tribunals or departments.

Where the chief procurator or a deputy chief procurator of the people's procuratorate of the same level sit in on the adjudication committee, a copy of meeting minutes or decision is to be sent to the office of the people's procuratorate procuratorial committee at the same level.

24. The decision and reasoning in cases discussed by the adjudication committee shall be disclosed in the judgment documents, except where the law provides it will not be open.

25. Upon the adjudication committees' discussion and decision of cases, the collegial panel or single judge hearing the case should promptly conclude trial, and send the judgment, ruling, mediation certificate, etc. for filing with the adjudication committees' work departments.

26. All levels of people's court shall establish systems for audio or visual recording of the entire process of adjudication committee meetings, and manage these in accordance with confidentiality requirements. The submission, review, discussion, and decision of adjudication committee topics are to be included in the caseflow management system, so that all steps leave tracks.

27. All levels of people's courts' adjudication committee work departments are responsible for handling the adjudication committees' routine work, and based on the adjudication committee's authorization, overseeing and inspecting the enforcement adjudication committee decisions, and carrying out other matters assigned by the adjudication committees.

V. Safeguard Measures

28. Adjudication committee members lawfully performing their duties receive the protection of law.

29. Where leading cadres and internal personnel of judicial organs illegally interfere with, pry into, or meddle with the adjudication committees' case discussion and decision making, it shall be recorded and circulated, and corresponding responsibility is to be pursued in accordance with law.

30. Where adjudication committee members are maliciously accused, or demeaned and defamed, the people's courts shall join with the relevant departments to promptly employ effective measures, clarify the real facts, dispel negative impacts and pursue the responsibility of relevant departments and individuals.

31. In cases discussed by the adjudication committee, the collegial panel or judge is responsible for the facts it reports and the members of the adjudication committee are responsible for the comments they express themselves and their vote.

32. Where adjudication committee members exhibit serious illegal conduct such as corruption or taking bribes, acting for personal gain, or abusing the law in a capricious and arbitrary manner; liability is to be strictly pursued in accordance with discipline and laws.

33. All levels of people's court shall include adjudication committee members' participation in their performance review, and announce it within the court in an appropriate fashion.

34. Adjudication committee members, personnel sitting in on meetings, and other participants should strictly preserve confidentiality and work discipline, and must not leak adjudication work secrets that they learn of in the course of performing their duties. Where serious consequences are caused by leaks, strictly pursue disciplinary and legal responsibility.

VI. Supplementary Provisions

35. The provisions of these Opinions on the scope and determination of adjudication committee members' trial responsibility and the procedures for pursuing it, are to be enforced on the basis of the "Supreme People's Court Opinions on Several Issues Regarding the Improvement of the People's Courts' Judicial Responsibility System" and related provisions on the discipline of judges.

36. All levels of people's court may draft detailed work rules based on these Opinions and the actual conditions in the court.

37. These Opinions are to take effect on August 2, 2019. Where normative documents previously released by the Supreme People's Court differ from these Provisions, these Opinions are controlling.

Supreme People's Court

2019/8/2

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1 Comment

  1. Please see this 2014 blogpost:https://supremepeoplescourtmonitor.com/2014/12/21/where-is-the-supreme-peoples-court-headed-with-judicial-committee-reform/; Supreme People’s Court’s responsibility regulations foreshadow many of the provisions in this new document, such as judicial committee consideration of major sensitive cases, existence of specialized judicial committees https://supremepeoplescourtmonitor.com/2017/08/13/supreme-peoples-court-ramps-up-its-judicial-responsibility-system/. many provisions consolidating existing practices.

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