Double Whammy : Lay Assessors as Lackeys in Chinese Courts

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)733-765
Journal / PublicationLaw and Society Review
Issue number3
Online published29 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016


Primarily drawing on in-depth interviews with lay assessors and judges in Chinese courts, this study suggests that assessors are little more than lackeys. To determine the role of lay participation in decision making across different jurisdictions, this article proposes two variables. The first is whether lay assessors are separate from, or mixed with, professional judges; the second is whether the regime is democratic or authoritarian. Viewed according to these variables, China's lay-assessor institution is subject to a double whammy: one, the superior legal knowledge of professional judges and their dominance in procedures, and two, the ultimate control of the regime over judges, who, for self-protection, firmly control lay assessors. This article advances our understanding of the operation of the Chinese lay-assessor institution, and more generally the relationship between lay participation and political regimes.

Research Area(s)

  • JURY