November 28, 2005

AS GORBACHEV DISCOVERED, YOU CAN'T CONTAIN ALL THE CONTRADICTIONS:

A Judge Tests China's Courts, Making History (JIM YARDLEY, 11/28/05, NY Times)

In many countries, including the United States, a judge tossing out a lower-level law would scarcely merit attention. But in China, the government, not a court, is the final arbiter of law. What Judge Li had considered judicial common sense, provincial legislators considered a judicial revolt. Their initial response was to try to crush it. Judge Li, who had on the bench less than three years, feared her career might be finished.

"An order by those in power has forced local leaders, none of whom dared to stand on principle, to sacrifice me," she wrote in rebuttal. "I'm just an ordinary person, a female judge who tried to protect the law. Who is going to protect my rights?"

Faced with the complex demands of governing a chaotic, modernizing country, China's leaders have embraced the rule of law as the most efficient means of regulating society. But a central requirement in fulfilling that promise lies unresolved - whether the governing Communist Party intends to allow an independent judiciary.

The 2003 ruling by Judge Li has become, quite unexpectedly, a landmark case for the evolving Chinese legal system. Her plight exposed the limits on judicial autonomy in China and the political retribution faced by judges. But it also revealed the rising influence of legal reformers. Scholars and lawyers rallied to Judge Li's defense and embraced her ruling as a test case, if an accidental one, for a more autonomous court system.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 28, 2005 7:43 AM
Comments

typical NYTimes article. A full page of the news paper, and I have no idea about what the underlying case was.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at November 28, 2005 11:59 PM
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