Article on Blogging by Chinese Judges

Professor Anne Sy Cheung’s article in the Harvard International Law Journal includes a couple of interesting findings that merit further investigation.

On page 267 of the article, Prof. Sy Cheung writes:
“While Blogging by judges may be an unusual phenomenon in common law countries, it is not unusual in China. In fact, more than half of the bloggers in this study wrote in their real names.”

Table 1 of the article breaks down the content of blog postings by Chinese judges.  Nearly 34% of the blog postings related to legal research.

Appendix IV lists the most common legal research question asked by the judges:

1. Copies of laws, regulations, and rules as well as comments on them.
2. Comments and opinions on draft legislation.
3. Criticizing the Rules of Payment of Court Fees issued by the State Council in December 2006.
4. Researches on a broad range of topics, such as compensations for damages to person happened in schools, the principle of innocence, problems of the Property Law of the PRC, role of the procuratorate, land system and land reform, citizens’ rights and freedom, real estate development and house transactions, labor disputes including payment of wages and salaries, and compensation for damages to accidents at work, and introduction of the spiritual compensation to civil suits collateral to criminal proceedings (some of these researches have been published in journals by the writer, blog owner).
5. Discussions on the tradition of Chinese culture and law.
6. Copies of court decisions that have come to effect.
7. Judicial interpretations issued by the Supreme People’s Court.
8. Routine work of the courts.
9. Introduction of Western legal theory, thought, and practice.
10. Questions and answers for various post-followers.

Exercising Freedom of Speech Behind the Great Firewall : A Study of Judges’ and Lawyers Blogs in China
Harvard International Law Journal
Vol. 52 , April 2011
http://www.harvardilj.org/2011/04/online_52_cheung/

In you are interested in legal research issues in China, don’t forget about the Chinese and American Forum on Legal Information and Law Libraries Conference in Philadelphia in July. Information on program sessions and speakers is available at
http://cafllnet.org/annual-conference/

2 new working papers on judicial opinions

“Judges and Their Editors”

Albany Government Law Review, Forthcoming
University of Missouri School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2009-18

DOUGLAS E. ABRAMS, University of Missouri School of Law

This essay discusses the roles of personal law clerks, central staff clerks, and Reporters of Decisions in editing judges’ opinions at the drafting stage. “The overarching lesson [is] that by submerging pride of authorship during an opinion’s gestation and by weighing editorial input with an open mind, judges secure in their craft advance the interests of justice.” The essay also discusses the constraints imposed by the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct on the circle of persons a judge may consult without giving the parties advance notice. The essay is adapted from Prof. Abrams’ address to the international meeting of the Association of Reporters of Judicial Decisions in Halifax, Nova Scotia on August 7, 2009.

 

“Sports in the Courts: The Role of Sports References in Judicial Opinions”

DOUGLAS E. ABRAMS, University of Missouri School of Law
Villanova Sports and Entertainment Law Journal, Forthcoming
University of Missouri School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2009-19

In cases with no claims or defenses concerning sports, the Supreme Court and lower federal and state courts frequently publish opinions that draw analogies to the rules or terminology of sports familiar to broad segments of the American people. Sports analogies can help the court explain factual or legal points because today’s generation, including the lawyers and litigants who comprise the prime audience for written opinions, grew into adulthood amid an unprecedented saturation of professional and amateur sports in the broadcast and print media, and more recently on the Internet.

This article surveys the broad array of sports whose references now lace written judicial opinions, and then discusses the use and misuse of these references. Sports references can help courts explain and resolve complexity, but may also implicate Rule 1.3 of the Model Code of Judicial Conduct by detracting unacceptably from the prestige indispensable to the judicial role. A sports reference remains incompatible with judging when a reasonable reader would conclude that the court invoked it primarily for the judge’s personal pleasure and not to facilitate the communication of ideas.

 

Source:  LSN: University of Missouri School of Law Legal Studies Research
 Paper Series Vol. 4 No. 4,  08/20/2009

The Curious Appellate Judge: Ethical Limits on Independent Research

“The Curious Appellate Judge: Ethical Limits on Independent Research”

 ELIZABETH G. THORNBURG, Southern Methodist School of Law

Appellate judges in the twenty-first century find themselves in a world in which litigation – both civil and criminal – involves a vast array of complex and technical factual disputes. These lawsuits, in turn, may cause judges to seek a greater level of expertise in order to deal competently with the evidence that will be relevant to the disputes. At the same time, advances in communication technology have brought the world’s library to the courthouse, requiring no onerous trips across town or index searches but only the click of a mouse. This combination of felt need and ready access has turned a once-marginal concern into a dilemma that affects courts and litigants daily. The problem of judicial research has always been with us, lurking in the margins, and yet we do not have a workable framework for discerning when it is and is not permissible. We can no longer fail comprehensively and rigorously to engage this question, because it is now taking on a central importance to proper judicial decision-making in an increasing number of cases. The stakes are high. Whether and when judges independently may research cuts to the very heart of our adversary system of justice: these questions implicate directly the ethical role of the judge, the balance between fairness and efficiency, the rights of the parties, and how we view the rule of law. This article therefore argues that states should reject the current proposal and adopt instead a rule that provides clear guidance to judges, notice to litigants, and transparency to the judicial system.

 

Source: LSN Law & Courts Vol. 2 No. 61,  10/28/2008