On 15 April, the Supreme People’s Court (Court) issued its latest model (or in this case, (all too typical cases): 7 typical cases of judicial misbehavior.
It is part of the name and shame campaign of the Communist Party’s Central Disciplinary Inspection Commission (CDIC), that appears to have started in September of last year, in which the CDIC releases typical cases of official corruption or other abuses, in violation of the Communist Party’s Eight Point Regulations (aimed at curbing official abuses). As reported in a recent Wall Street Journal article, the CDIC has accelerated the release of cases on its website from weekly to monthly.
Although cases previously released on the CDIC website have included some cases from the judiciary, this is the first time that the Court has released such cases.
The Court issued a document summarizing the cases to the lower courts and to the CDIC (which often takes the lead in investigating judicial misbehavior, because most judicial officials are Communist Party members).
The Seven Cases
- Touring at public expense (a group from Kunming (Yunnan Province)’s Panlong District Court used RMB 88,000 in public funds to visit the beach resort of Sanya after participating in a training course in Haikou);
- Using public funds for gifts (a Shandong district court court president arranged for the purchase of RMB 23,000 in gift cards at a local supermarket and obtained reimbursement as “offiice supplies.”)
- Obtaining reimbursement for foot massages (two Hubei Province Intermediate Court Division heads submitted RMB 2500 in foot massage receipts; they and the Deputy Court President who approved the reimbursement were punished).
- Wasteful procurement of office equipment (a Shanxi District Court spent over RMB 200,000 on office equipment ).
- Using government vehicles for private use (a Shaanxi Province local Deputy Court President and two judicial policemen toured a scenic spot on the way back from an enforcement action);
- Large scale wedding banquets (a Heilongjiang county judge held large wedding banquets for his daughter and accepted RMB 27500 in monetary gifts);
- Office misbehavior (a Zhanjiang (Guangdong Province) )District Court division head held a meeting with a litigant wearing slippers and was found to be playing a game on his office computer).
These cases are typical
According to an analysis done by the People’s Daily Overseas Edition, these cases are typical of the cases released by the CDIC. Some of the highlights:
- Almost 40% of the CDIC cases released involved improper use of public funds or government vehicles;
- Of those, almost 25% involved touring at public expense;
- A significant number involved improper reimbursement;
- Some other “typical cases” involved officials playing computer games in the office (although there were local variations in this category);
- About 12% involved “over-the-top” purchases of office equipment or building construction;
- the infractions were relatively minor; and
- The cases involved local court judges rather than those in provincial level higher people’s courts or the Court itself.
Why were these cases released?
It appears likely that the Court released these cases because the CDIC issued a document requiring all government departments and SOEs to provide typical cases (although the document does not appear to have been released publicly) and the Court need to show that it was complying with this document.
Other likely reasons would be similar to those for other government officials: scare judicial personnel, especially those in leadership positions, into complying with Party restrictions. As the above graphic shows, it is meant as a bullhorn to those in leadership position in lower courts. The Court leadership realizes that the widespread public impression that judicial officials fiddle the system and do not take their work seriously is a threat to the court system. The typical cases are intended to provide evidence to ordinary people that the government is serious about corruption in the judiciary, and also to encourage people to report abuses. Why these particular seven cases were selected for release is not known.
The cases were released for the political reasons, not the substantive reasons discussed in my recent blogpost.