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BEIJING - China"s draft law on people"s juries, which is under its first review at the top legislature"s bi-monthly session, allows for a wider range of candidates to become jurors and explicitly states their duties.
The draft law was based on a decision in 2004 by the National People"s Congress Standing Committee to improve the people"s jury system, and also based on experience drawn from over two years of pilots at courts across the country.
The draft law states that citizens who have received high school education or above can be selected as jurors, instead of the previous requirement of higher education.
It also changed the age limit for candidates from 23 years and above to 28 years and above.
According to the draft law, the jury system applies to civil, criminal, and administrative cases in the first instance that involve group or public interests, receive widespread public attention, or have major social impact, except cases where only judges are allowed.
Jurors are selected randomly from eligible local residents, but a certain proportion should be chosen based on personal applications and recommendations by entities, the draft law states.
It also states that jurors can take part in trials in the form of three-person or seven-person collegiate benches together with judges.
On three-person collegiate benches, jurors have the same rights as judges, but on seven-person collegiate benches, jurors can only engage in fact finding, not the application of legal clauses.
The draft law states that criminal cases where defendants are likely to be sentenced to over ten years in prison, public interest litigation cases, and major cases involving the public interest, such as land expropriation, environmental protection and food safety, should be heard by seven-person collegiate benches.
The draft law also includes terms of certain financial compensation for the work of jurors.
The jurors have a term of five years and normally cannot work a second term.
It also asks courts to set a limit on the number of cases a juror can hear each year.