China and Inner Asia

Organized Panel Session

(77) Advances in Understanding Chinese Court Behavior

3/23/2018
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: Washington Room 5, Exhibit Level

New Supreme People's Court (SPC) rules which took effect in the beginning of 2014 requiring every court at every level to publish every decision online (with some exceptions, and as part of broader online government transparency initiatives) introduce the tantalizing possibility of revolutionizing the study of Chinese court behavior. At the present time, almost everything we know about Chinese courts comes from the qualitative analysis of interview and ethnographic data and the quantitative analysis of small samples of manually coded court decisions. The public accessibility of tens of millions of written court decisions necessitates radically different strategies of data collection, management, and analysis. The papers in this panel represent path-breaking efforts to chart this new research frontier by showcasing innovative analytical techniques, fresh empirical findings, and cautionary lessons about data bias. The papers in this panel also collectively embody the ideals of diversity championed by the AAS in terms of discipline, rank, gender, ethnicity, nationality, and methodology. Liebman's paper, drawing on over one million court decisions from Henan Province, is intended as a primer on the use and misuse of online court decisions. Michelson's analysis of the same court decisions from Henan reveals discrimination against women on a massive scale in the context of divorce litigation. Li's paper, also on divorce litigation, reveals the nature and extent of important discrepancies between the language of courts in action and the language of published decisions. Finally, Smith tackles the issue of bias in the selective publication of SPC death penalty review decisions. 

Presentations:

Ethan Michelson

Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana

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Ethan Michelson

Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana

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Ethan Michelson

Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana

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Benjamin Liebman

Columbia University, New York

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Ke Li

City University of New York, John Jay College, New York

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Tobias Smith

University of California, Berkeley, California

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Benjamin Liebman

Columbia University, New York

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Ke Li

City University of New York, John Jay College, New York

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