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Autonomy of Chinese judges : dynamics of people's courts, the CCP and the public in contemporary judicial reform Liu, Yue

Abstract

This dissertation is the outcome of author’s observations and empirical research on judicial reform in China from the 1980s to 2015. Focusing on judicial decision making process of judges in Chinese courts, it attempts to answer the following questions: How do the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the public, and the internal administrative power—three factors essential to Chinese judges’ judicial decision making process— influence the adjudication of individual cases in various periods of judicial reform? How do the increasingly professionalized judges respond to these institutionalized challenges? Moreover, how do the dynamics generated from the interactions among courts, the CCP, and the public shape the norms and institutional building of judges and courts, and affect judicial reform policies in China? This dissertation adopts historical analysis, documentary analysis, and qualitative analysis to seek answers to these questions. It finds that, first, direct influence of the CCP and the public to the judicial behaviours of individual judges is less evident than indirect influence through the administrative oversight in courts’ internal bureaucracy. Second, the relationships between courts, the CCP, and the public are more dynamic in fragmented China. The norms of Chinese judges’ autonomy and institutional changes in courts are constantly shaped by the expectations and compromise of powers of the CCP, the public, and courts. Finally, building independent and professional judges in dependent courts without insulation from the external influences is not achievable by current Chinese judicial reform agenda.

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