Rulings must consider morality: top judge

Updated: 2011-12-23 10:38

By Zhao Yinan (China Daily)

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BEIJING - Courts should keep public morality in mind when they are handing down decisions that could have far-reaching effects, China's top judge said on Thursday.

Wang Shengjun, president of the Supreme People's Court, called on some 30 chief justices from provincial high courts to "legally protect Good Samaritans" and not let them be misjudged.

Wang's remarks were in response to some controversial cases in which the people who lent a helping hand were later accused of being the offenders.

Speaking at an annual work conference, Wang said maintaining justice and morality is a challenge, and the constitution's principle of judicial independence is not well implemented in some regions.

In addition, Wang noted that the lack of capability of some judges also contributed to society's distrust of courts.

"Some of the individual lawsuits have made the public question whether judges can balance social conventions with legal provisions," he said.

The work conference also pledged to establish an accountability system that intends to hold judges accountable after they make an erroneous judgment.

"The influence of some individual lawsuits snowballed after being disseminated on the Internet and left a negative impact on society," he said, urging the courts to make plans before major judicial interpretations and decisions are released.

"Risk assessment and preplanning are necessary for major cases, policies and judicial interpretations that might trigger social misunderstanding and speculation," he said.

A case in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, in which a man who allegedly helped an injured person was found guilty because the injured claimed he was the one who caused the injury, was believed to have set a negative social example and prevented many from helping others.

Earlier this year, a 2-year-old girl in Guangdong province died after she was run over and left bleeding on a road. A closed-circuit camera showed more than a dozen passers-by walked past her but did not stop to help.

The girl's death led to heated discussion and self-reflection among the public that the previous ruling might have injured social ethics.

Courts of all levels nationwide received more than 10 million new cases in the first 11 months this year, 5 percent higher year-on-year, according to the Supreme People's Court.