The pilots are to be part of the new round of judicial reform first announced in the White Paper on Judicial Reform (2012) and the more directly implement of the ‘decision’ of the Third Plenum (2013). The proposed areas of reform seem to focus on ensuring judicial independence by freeing both procurators and judges (both judicial actors) from normal bureaucratic review systems, shielding them form local protectionism and raising their professional caliber by inviting in non-career judges and extending the age of retirement to make room for more experienced judges.
This is not your Zhou Yongkang’s Political-Legal Commission. Following the ongoing discussion of the role of cops, procs and courts in preventing wrongful convictions, the political legal commission has apparently issued a guiding opinion weighing in on the matter. Will it be more successful in stopping wrongful convictions and police abuse than, well, the laws have been? Time will tell, but this is a promising sign of commitment to reform.