China has decided to improve its jury system by reforming regulations on how jurors are selected and trained, according to a recent regulation issued by the Supreme People's Court (SPC) and the Ministry of Justice.
Cao Jianming, SPC's vice president, said Saturday that local courts should give priority to those with a good cultural background and knowledge of law when selecting jurors. That the jurors have high moral standards is also essential.
Previously, the laws and regulations pertaining to the jury system were vague and there were no specific regulations on the requirements and selection procedures for jurors.
According to the newly-released regulation, an eligible juror must have at least a junior college education and has been trained before he or she participates in court hearings.
The regulation also states that jurors must be appointed by the standing committee of legislature. When the five-year term of a juror expires he or she will be automatically removed from the post.
When working out the evaluation criteria for jurors, local courts should consult judicial government agencies at the same level, and consider jurors' achievements, attitude and moral standards into consideration.
According to a timetable fixed by the Supreme People's Court, candidates for the next round of jurors will be selected in the first two months of 2005. They will be trained from March to April and take their posts on May 1.
Under the current Chinese jury system, a juror serves as a lay judge by joining the professional judges in court hearings.
"To build a clean and fair judicial system, judges can provide jurors with cues or instructions on law, but implication on specific case identification or pressing ideas on the jurors are strictly prohibited," said Jiang Xiangchang, also SPC's vice president, Sunday.
Sources with SPC said they are currently working on two other regulations concerning the administration and training of jurors. They will be put into effect upon a revision soon after soliciting ideas.
Initiated about seven decades ago at the revolutionary bases run by the Chinese communists, the jury system has been regarded as one of the fine traditions of the country's judicial system.