Selected Papers of The Jurist (法学家), Volume 1
Renmin Chinese Law Review: Selected Papers of The Jurist
Edited by Jichun Shi
Chapter 8: Empirical studies on the de-functionalization of criminal trial in China
I was invited to participate in a conference held in Cincinnati, OH, between 7 and 11 April 2011 and entitled the 2011 Innocence Network Conference: An International Exploration of Wrongful Conviction, and took ‘Misjudged criminal cases in China’s mainland’ as the theme of my address. With a view to revealing a defect in the Mexican criminal justice system, Roberto Hernandez, a participant from Mexico, showed us a documentary entitled Presumed Guilty, which he had directed. According to Hernandez, 92 per cent of the accused in Mexico have been convicted before any meeting with their judges. In other words, judges were able to convict merely on the basis of the prosecution’s evidence. In those cases, so far as to whether or not to hold a court session, judges deemed it unnecessary to hear the statement of the defendant. How can a judgment be made without a hearing?! I was astonished by this information, and associate what happens in Mexico with the criminal trial process losing its function in China. I pondered the existing system in China, asking myself again and again whether, with the cost of human and financial resources, it really is necessary to hold a court session when the judges could reach the same conclusion without a hearing. This is the essential problem.
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