Couples in field of law face choice over jobs
Workplace shuffle follows new rule designed to protect court impartiality
Prosecutors and judges whose spouses are lawyers, judicial auditors or judicial auctioneers have to choose whether they or their spouse will leave their positions, under a new rule implemented this year in Shanghai.
Prosecuting agencies and courts in the municipality took the lead putting forward the rule, aiming at eliminating conflicts of interest and elevating judicial credibility, said a top official at Shanghai's top prosecuting agency.
"There has been no single case where the people involved complained that the prosecutor ganged up with the lawyer, but we've heard reasonable doubts from people that a couple like this may affect judicial impartiality," said Jun Peihua, deputy chief prosecutor of the Shanghai People's Procuratorate.
"We took the initiative to build a firewall to combat corruption and avoid the occurrence of such incidents," he said.
Altogether, 63 people in the prosecuting agencies are in such a situation. Among them, 49 have decided to step down. The rest will let their spouse step down, according to the prosecuting agency.
"These prosecutors and judges will get an internal transfer to departments that don't involve case investigation and review. Most of them will be transferred to administrative sections," said Tan Bin, deputy director of the political department of the procuratorate.
Their incomes may be reduced but they can choose which one of them abandons their work to maximize the benefits of the entire family, he said.
"Most of them showed great understanding of the rule. As public servants, they are quite clear that people must feel fairness and justice, and ethical violations must be clamped down on," Tan said.
This is the first time that judicial auditors, who check the money involved in a case, and judicial auctioneers, who sell property as directed by a court, have been affected by the new stipulations for transparency.
"The targets are being expanded and requirements are becoming more stringent as the government makes efforts to further standardize judicial practices," Tan said.