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

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

Book – Greening Justice: Creating and Improving Environmental Courts

The University of Denver has posted an online version of the following book on environmental courts in foreign countries.

Greening Justice: Creating and Improving Environmental Courts

George Pring and Katherine Pring

Access Initiative, 2009

Book description:

Over the last three decades judicial institutions in some

countries have responded to environmental challenges

in innovative ways. Perhaps the best example is the

Green Bench of the Supreme Court of India that hears

public interest environmental cases filed by citizens.

In other countries, Governments have set up specialized

environmental courts and tribunals. The Land and

Environment Court of New South Wales, Australia, is a

leading example of a specialized court. Over 350 specialized

environmental courts and tribunals have been

established in 41 countries.

Nevertheless, most citizens still lack adequate access to

justice. Comparative research to help us with a deeper

understanding of the capabilities and impact of these

institutions is almost non-existent. Greening Justice:

Creating and Improving Environmental Courts and Tribunals

seeks to fill this knowledge gap in the hope that all

those involved in creating or improving these specialized

institutions will have the benefit of a growing body

of global experiences.

George and Catherine Pring, a professor at the University

of Denver Sturm College of Law and a professional

mediator, respectively, from Colorado, authored this

volume based on field research they completed over the

last two years. They have interviewed judges, lawyers,

litigants, officials, and civil society representatives in

dozens of countries to unravel the key characteristics —

the “building blocks” — which contribute to making

environmental courts and tribunals effective in providing

citizen access to justice in environmental matters.

They identified 12 such characteristics and present them

with examples of successes and failures from around

the world. For those involved in creating or improving

environmental courts and tribunals, one of the most

useful aspects is the examples of best available practices

relating to each of the 12 characteristics. The volume

also provides a framework against which to assess existing

or proposed institutions.

Documentary on women judges in South Africa

Courting Justice (2008)

Director: Jane Thandi Lipman

A bit expensive at $295.

Elsie Bonthuys’ article, “The Personal and the Judicial,” in volume 24, Part 2 (2008) of the South African Jounal on Human Rights discusses the film. see pages 242-243. 

Description from the distributor’s Web site:

Courting Justice takes viewers behind the gowns and gavels to reveal the women who make up 18 percent of South Africa’s male-dominated judiciary. Hailing from diverse backgrounds and entrusted with enormous responsibilities, these pioneering women share with candor, and unexpected humor, accounts of their country’s transformation since apartheid, and the evolving demands of balancing their courts, country, and families.