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Jurors to help decide court verdicts
By Liu Li, Cao Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-04-25 06:10

Around 27,000 jurors across the country will officially start work on May 1, helping decide both criminal and civil cases, yesterday's People's Daily reported.

The jurors, who will be appointed for a five-year period, will sit on a panel of three with judges to decide individual cases.

Jurors have in the past been involved in the legal system in China, although their role and functions were not clearly defined.

One major change includes the right of people accused of crimes, and those involved in civil cases, to request a juror to be involved in deciding verdicts.

The new jurors' current role was outlined by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) last August.

"This is an important move to upgrade and strengthen the system of people's jurors," Xiao Long, vice-president of Beijing No 1 Intermediate People's Court, told China Daily yesterday.

"The implementation of the NPC's decision will add more transparency and justness to the country's judicial system," he said.

China included people's jurors into the Constitution as early as 1954, but before this new law there were no rules to stipulate the details of the jury system.

The new directive sets out who can be jurors. Candidates must be over 23, have no criminal record, be healthy and have a minimum level of education. The directive forbids members of people's congresses, judicial and security department staff and lawyers from acting as jurors to ensure justice.

After being appointed by people's congresses at district and county levels, jurors are entitled to hear cases "with considerable social repercussions" or cases where litigants request them for their initial trials. Appeals will be heard solely by judges.

On cases where they can sit, jurors will take up one or two places on a three-member bench. Commenting on the new move, Hong Yan, a people's juror at Beijing No 1 Intermediate People's Court, said yesterday, "Quality, fairness and judgement in trials are the most important aspects of the job for us jurors."

Meanwhile, in Shanghai, more than 700 well-trained people's jurors will take up their posts in the city's courts from May 1, announced Shanghai High People's Court on Friday.

The move will help build a more "democratic, open, just and authoritative judiciary," said Jin Changrong, deputy director of the Shanghai High People's Court.

More than 3,000 people applied or were recommended by their work units for local district people's courts, according to Jin. The courts then picked 795 names from the applicants.

(China Daily 04/25/2005 page3)

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