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George Washington University Law School

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Shaanxi to begin publishing court verdicts online

From the China Human Rights Briefing, Dec. 31, 2009-Jan. 4, 2010:

According to a December 31 Xinhua report, the Shaanxi Province courts will begin publishing verdicts and court rulings online beginning in January 2010. The regulations state that courts will have up to 10 working days in each month to complete the publishing of all of the previous month’s formal verdicts and adjudications online, where they must remain for at least six months. Rulings in cases which involve state or business secrets, minors, or were tried in private for other reasons, as well as rulings in a number of other private matters (including marriage or domestic disputes, medical disputes, etc) do not have to be publicized. Courts will be expected to determine whether or not to publish a given ruling in accordance with relevant provisions or at the requests of the parties to the lawsuits.

While this is an important step towards making the justice system more transparent, courts are given considerable leeway in deciding what should and should not be made public, and courts may make use of this freedom to avoid publicizing cases involving infringements on citizens' rights. In addition to formal verdicts, courts should also make publicly available lawyers’ statements made in a client's defense, so that citizens can have a more comprehensive understanding of the case.

Source: "Shaanxi: Provincial Courts Required to Publicize Rulings Online Beginning January 2010 (陕西:2010年1月起全省法院判决书上网公开)," December 31, 2009, http://news.xinhuanet.com/legal/2009-12/31/content_12735905.htm

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