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Judges will be punished for trial errors
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In its efforts to reform and improve its judicial system, the Supreme People's Court (SPC) said on Monday it will track retrials resulting from cases tried by particular judges, and will punish those who are prone to errors.

Shen Deyong, vice-president of the SPC, announced the new policy at a meeting of top judicial officials in Beijing.

"We will spare no effort to study and root out any judicial injustice caused by human factors," Shen said.

It is the first time the SPC has said it will hold judges responsible for issuing verdicts that are later overturned.

To facilitate such enforcement, the SPC will improve its national system to track where and why retrials occur, he said.

The SPC is also taking steps to rein in judges' discretionary powers by establishing guidelines for sentencing, he said.

"We will streamline principles for judges' discretionary powers and try to unify standards so as to avoid the public's doubts of judicial justice because of very different judgments on similar cases," Shen said.

Supervision departments at all levels should intensify their efforts to improve court efficiency in order to reduce the number of retrials, he said.

"The departments should assist court presidents to refer the incorrect verdicts to the judicial committee to decide whether cases should be retried or not, so as to solve contradictions and disputes at the grassroots level," Shen said.

In recent years, courts have made efforts to establish a more efficient, fair and authoritative judicial system.

Yet complaints regarding trial conclusions continue to account for about 70 percent of public appeals to higher authorities for help, the State Bureau for Letters and Calls, said.

At the same conference, SPC Chief Justice Wang Shengjun stressed the need to establish a clearer mechanism to gather public input and address concerns.

"We should make full use of the Internet, letters from and visits by the masses and appeals, among others, to ensure that the public can express their opinions," Wang said.

He urged court officials to pay special attention to cases that most directly impact people's lives - including hearings pertaining to education, medical treatment, employment, social insurance and affordable housing.

(China Daily June 24, 2008)

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