China / Government

Top court says judicial officers should not profit from lawsuits

By Cao Yin (China Daily) Updated: 2014-10-08 07:41

China's top court asked disciplinary departments at the grassroots level to play their supervisory role to stop judicial officers from accepting fees for acting as go-betweens in lawsuits.

The disciplinary departments must strictly inspect legal officers, forbidding them from getting money by acting as intermediaries between courts and litigants, under a guideline issued by the Supreme People's Court recently.

Some judicial officers have used lawsuits as a business, asking for payment of commissions after helping litigants establish relations with judges, the top court said.

Under the guideline, disciplinary inspectors are required to highlight the supervision of these "commission merchants", in a bid to curtail cases bred by illicit money and improper relations.

Judicial disciplinary departments should not miss or neglect any corrupt officers in the court system, and must disclose graft cases to the public regularly, the guideline said.

At the end of September, a total of 13 legal officers, including four judges and four police officers who allegedly corrupted or violated Party disciplinary rules, were named in the third group of problematic legal officials this year.

The Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China Central Committee ordered judicial branches at all levels to recognize the damage done by graft and to get rid of such undesirable work styles.

Of the named officials, Zhou Jianming, a former member of the judicial committee of Northwest China's Shaanxi High People's Court, was suspected of taking bribes amounting to 1.69 million yuan ($275,000) in connection with an office building construction project when he was the president of Ankang Municipal Intermediate People's Court from 2010 to 2012.

Zhou has been expelled from the Party and removed from office. His case is currently moving through the judicial process.

Huang Jian, a former police officer in Huoqiu county, Anhui province, was also on the list after he allegedly received bribes of 181,000 yuan in cash and 12,000 yuan in shopping cards from enterprises.

The top court said judicial officers in cases of dereliction of duty should be named, and added that it will urge court disciplinary inspectors to strengthen their oversight of legal staffs.

According to the guideline, no judicial officer may be indifferent to litigants, and they should not handle cases with a bad attitude.

In addition, the disciplinary departments were asked to be present in important meetings in courts, and were given the rights to participate in the drafting of judicial documents and in official appointments, the guideline added.

Deng Hui, deputy principal of Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics, said during the annual sessions of the National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in March that judicial corruption had triggered great public dissatisfaction because the judges breaking laws deal with legal affairs on a daily basis.

"'Judge' means 'justice', so their mistakes easily angered residents," Deng added.

Cheng Lei, an associate law professor at Renmin University of China, was pessimistic about the guideline, saying the top court's policies are hard to enforce at the county level or lower courts.

Administrative intervention has been rotting the judicial system and may not be rooted out anytime soon, even though the top court has adopted a zero-tolerance attitude toward judicial graft, Cheng said.

Over the past three months, several judges and presidents suspected of corruption in Liaoning and Jilin provincial courts were exposed through disciplinary inspections.

Last year, 381 judicial workers were investigated for alleged law and disciplinary violations. Of them, 101 received criminal punishment, according to the top court.


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