內地法院無罪判決難問題研究 ——以刑事訴訟構造為視角的分析

Research into the Low Acquittal Rate among Courts of Mainland China -- Analysis from the Perspective of the Criminal Proceedings Structure

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Award date10 Jul 2019

Abstract

无罪判决率被视为衡量一个国家无罪判决难易程度的重要指标,亦在相当程度上反映出一国刑事司法运行的整体状况。近二十年来,内地法院的无罪判决率持续走低,2001年的无罪判决率低于1%,为0.89%;2018年达到最低值0.057%。在部分地区,连续多年出现了零无罪判决的现象。与其他国家和地区相比,内地法院无罪判决率无疑也是最低的之一。另外还需要关注的是,在内地法院无罪判决率处于较低数值的同时,还出现了冤假错案频发的现象。有一种解释认为,无罪判决率之所以较低,是因为内地刑事司法运行高效且精准,公安机关、检察机关层层过滤,不合格的案子,到法院的机会很小。如果上述解释成立,为何“精密司法”机制未能在之前的诉讼程序对冤假错案作出无罪处理?无罪判决的鲜见和冤错案件的频发,是否意味着内地刑事司法机制存在着某些不足和缺陷?如果真的存在,造成上述现象的原因又是什么?上述问题构成了本文研究的起点。从表面上看,上述问题只是刑事诉讼中一个小小的“点”,但它与刑事诉讼和司法制度中的诸多理念、基础理论、诉讼原则以及诉讼规则紧密相关,其本身具有重要的学术意义。

相较于“认罪认罚从宽制度”“审判中心主义”“司法体制改革”“监察体制改革”等热点话题,以无罪判决为主题的研究则显得较为冷清。通过检索文献和实证观察,以研究的对象和内容为标准,现有关于无罪判决研究可以划分为几个类别。一是关于无罪判决的性质、效力以及法理基础的理论研究,大多数学者关注的焦点是《刑事诉讼法》所规定的证据不足的无罪判决。二是关于无罪判决难(无罪判决率低)及其成因的分析和研究,主要从公检法制约不足、证据标准、绩效考核、舆论影响等角度分析,并提出相应解决对策。三是采取案例分析或实证分析的方法对部分无罪判决案例进行研究,以考察无罪判决难原因为研究重点。同时,仅个别学者和法官对无罪判决展开系统性理论研究,提出了建构内地无罪裁判机制的理论思路。

无罪判决作为一种裁判形态,有其正当性依据。犯罪是已然发生的事实,而人类有限的事实发现能力以及时间、手段和方式等刑事诉讼机制的限制,必然导致作为认识对象的案件事实无法被必然发现。而在案件存疑时,为平衡冲突的各项利益,法院需要作出无罪判决。并且,即便侦查机关和检察机关可能直接作出无罪处理的决定,但基于诉讼认识的规律,以及司法裁判的独立性与权威性,法院完全可能推翻侦查机关和检察机关的指控,而作出无罪的判决。正是因为上述原因,在世界各国的刑事诉讼运行实践中,均存在着相当比例的无罪判决。相较之下,内地过低的无罪判决比率以及近期不断出现的冤错案件表明内地的刑事诉讼机制可能存在着某种结构性缺陷。从表面上看,内地的无罪判决率低的原因在于,侦查机关和检察机关会在侦查阶段和审查起诉阶段作出无罪处理的决定。但内地无罪判决数与其他无罪处理决定在数量上的巨大差距,已经反映出内地刑事诉讼构造的特殊之处。

本文选择从刑事诉讼构造的视角分析和揭示内地法院无罪判决难的原因。内地刑事诉讼理论界对诉讼构造的研究始于20世纪80年代,这一研究范畴的引入,使得内地刑事诉讼法学研究得以走出注释法学的藩篱,内地刑事诉讼学者先后提出线形结构和三角结构、流水作业结构与“以裁判权为中心的诉讼结构”、纵向构造和横向构造等有创见的概念和学说,对于理解内地刑事诉讼实践以及法律改革、法律移植提供了强有力的理论支撑。2014年,中共十八届四中全会亦明确提出了以“审判为中心”的刑事诉讼制度改革,上述改革的推进涉及刑事诉讼构造和司法体制,并可能牵涉到公检法三机关关系的调整。不过,相较于学者所提出的“审判中心主义”,现阶段所呈现的“以审判为中心”的诉讼制度改革所涉及的领域要狭窄、扁平得多。这也导致,“以审判为中心”的诉讼制度改革演变为以庭审实质化为核心的技术性改革。对此,本文认为,在“以审判为中心”的政策话语体系中,此项改革的价值定位基本上是工具主义的,即注重改革措施对于促进发现实体真实、防范刑事错案的有效性。此种“技术型”审判中心论,由于无法对既有的刑事诉讼构造,尤其是刑事诉讼纵向构造作出调整,因而无力解决内地无罪判决难的问题。本文提出,作为一项诉讼构造命题,审判中心主义所倡导的是一个立体化的刑事诉讼制度改革方案,包含多个层面的内容。其直接针对的是刑事诉讼构造,即对刑事诉讼制度的整体性、宏观性改革;而构造层面的改革愿景,向下可以衍生出更微观的刑事诉讼规则层面的改革,向上则可以通向更宏观的司法体制层面的改革,如此,才会对解决内地无罪判决难乃至刑事诉讼制度性难题产生明显的积极效果。

本文在运用法解释学方法、价值分析方法、比较研究方法、案例分析方法之余,还重点应用了“从经验到理论”的社会科学研究方法。从实践中出现的问题和发生的现象出发,总结经验,将其上升为一般理论。具体而言,上述研究方法在本文中的运用主要体现以下几个方面:首先,把经验事实作为研究的起点。将经验事实作为论文研究的起点,能够使文章尽量做到价值无涉与客观化,为下一步的理论分析奠定经验事实基础。其次,从本土的现象中发现和提出问题。在内地的司法实践中,无罪判决的形成机制存在着大量的问题,这是运用社会科学研究方法研究中国问题的良好资源。因此,在本文的研究中,笔者将采取从经验到理论的研究路径,从中国立法和司法实践中的经验事实出发,使用中外现有的理论进行解释,在无法给出合理解释的基础上,试图分析、提出中国本土的理论。

本文除导论外,共有七章。导论部分,主要介绍本文的研究背景、文献综述、研究方法和文章架构。

第一章对无罪判决的基本问题进行分析。无罪判决尽管经常被论及,但其并非一个内涵和外延明确的概念,在不同的法域以及不同的语境下其通常具有不同的含义。为明确本文的论证焦点,有必要界定和阐释无罪判决的内涵和外延。其次,不立案、撤销案件、不起诉、撤回起诉、终止审理以及英美法中的终止诉讼均为刑事诉讼中的无罪处理方式,它们之间的异同对于解读和分析内地实践中的无罪判决现象具有重要意义,需要作出相应的回应和解答。

第二章是研究和分析无罪判决的正当性基础。当我们对无罪判决的比率作出评价,尤其是得出内地无罪判决率较低的判断时,隐含着一个我们所认同的逻辑前提。该大前提就是,无罪判决是正当的,并且具有适当比例的无罪判决表明一国的刑事司法机制是运作正常的。那么,无罪判决的正当性基础是什么呢?本章从真实发现能力的局限性、利益的冲突与平衡、司法裁判的独立性与权威性的角度阐释一定比例的无罪判决的必要性和正当性。

第三章对内地法院无罪判决进行实证研究,通过数据统计分析,重点总结近年来内地法院无罪判决的七大特点。同时,以某中院五年来撤回起诉和无罪判决的案件为研究样本,以此典型实践形态考察案件数量、撤诉原因及其法律效果,以揭示撤回起诉与无罪判决的关系。另外,本章以刑事错案为研究视角,一方面挖掘司法统计信息资源,探寻刑事错案的体制机制问题;另一方面,借力理论研究前沿成果,力争有所创新和突破。在本章中,笔者承继了理论界传统的刑事错案问题的调研思路和方法,例如对典型案例采取案例汇总与个案分析相结合的方法进行分析,通过问卷调查的方式对内地的刑事错案问题进行了调查研究,力图从微观上寻找无罪判决难的原因。这也是本文对无罪判决研究视角的创新之处。

第四章通过“隐性无罪判决”具体实践描述分析无罪判决率低的另一成因。司法实践中各种无罪处理机制的存在,本文将这些司法实践中存在的、无罪判决以外的各种无罪处理机制定义为“隐性的无罪判决”,包括以撤销案件、不起诉决定、撤回起诉以及“留有余地”的判决来代替无罪判决。在分析总结“隐性的无罪判决”的类型和功能后,认为这些无罪处理机制都含有公检法三机关之间的协调和妥协,是在内地特殊的公检法三机关关系以及法律制度还不够完善的背景下产生的,是刑事诉讼改革必须要面临的问题。其次,进而推断说内地隐性的无罪判决是否是一种中国式的“精密司法”?本文认为,“精密司法”只是隐性无罪判决的特征之一,并不能以其完全的涵盖隐形无罪判决的全部内涵。关于“隐性的无罪判决”负面效应,本文认为,从长远看,都是对刑事诉讼法原则和规则的破坏,违背了刑事诉讼的基本精神,不利于被告人的权利保障,对于刑事诉讼的进一步发展有着不利的影响。

第五章重点阐述刑事诉讼构造与无罪判决的关系,从刑事诉讼构造的视角分析无罪判决是本文的重点和创新点。首先分析控辩审在刑事诉讼横向构造和纵向构造中的主要内容以及各方之间的关系。其次,阐述“倒三角结构”的起源与具体定义,进而分析检察官在刑事诉讼中的地位,认为刑事诉讼中检察官的地位是刑事诉讼主体地位问题矛盾的集中点。接着,从辩护方、控诉方分别论述无罪判决率低的原因倒三角诉讼结构的关系,认为以控辩双方地位不对等为主要特征的“倒三角结构”是造成无罪判决率畸低的一个重要原因。第三,分析论述“流水作业”式的纵向构造与无罪判决关系,认为公检法权力不均衡和绩效考核制度是导致无罪判决难另一重要原因。

第六章分析论述证明标准与无罪判决的关系。证明标准问题是近年来内地理论界和实务界争议较大的一个问题,面对司法实践中不断出现的冤假错案,立法者以及司法工作者都将刑事证明标准作为解决上述问题的切入点。首先,本章将从三个方面对证明标准的与无罪判决之间的内在关系进行分析。在此基础上,将对内地刑事证明标准的历史演变过程进行梳理,尝试归纳和提炼证明标准变迁背后的内在逻辑。最后,对内地证明标准的发展路径和趋势作出归纳,并进一步论证证明标准的明确性和可操作性为法官作出证据不足的无罪判决提供了法律依据。

第七章从审判中心主义的路径论述无罪判决的理性回归。首先,在分析和评价内地“以审判为中心”的诉讼制度改革的基础上,对“审判中心主义”的实现路径作出论述,认为“以审判为中心”的诉讼体制改革演变为以庭审实质化为核心的技术性改革。其次,提出从审判中心主义的“技术型”调整走向“体制性”变革,从庭审实质化、刑事诉讼横向构造调整以及纵向构造重塑的层面进行对策性思考和探索。
The acquittal rate has been in recent years a general research interest of law circles and social public both at home and abroad. As an important index to measure complexity of making a verdict of not guilty, the acquittal rate can, to a large extent, reflect the overall status of a country’s criminal justice. The recent two decades have witnessed a continuous drop in the acquittal rate of courts in Mainland China. In 2001, the acquittal rate was 0.89%, which was even lower than 1%. In 2014, it reached a record low, being 0.066% only (0.66% for public-prosecuting cases). In some parts of Mainland China, the zero-acquittal-rate remains even for years. Compared with others of the world, the acquittal rate in courts of Mainland China is by no means one the lowest. Of special note is that, apart from a low acquittal rate in courts of Mainland China, cases in which people are unjustly, falsely or wrongly charged coexist. One explanation holds that the low acquittal rate is resulted from efficient and precise operation of criminal justice in Mainland China. Before being brought to the court, a case is usually handled by the public security organs, procuratorial organs and people’s courts and prosecuting organs first. This effectively prevents unqualified cases from being trialed by the court. If the above explanation is tenable, why does the “precise justice” mechanism fail to give a verdict of not guilty to the wrongly-charged cases? Is it that the low acquittal rate and the frequency of wrongly-charged cases indicate some defects with the current criminal justice mechanism of Mainland China? If yes, what are causes of the above phenomenon? In order to answer the above questions, this research is performed. On the surface, these questions are just a small part of criminal proceedings research, but they have a close bearing on many concepts, basic concepts, proceedings principles and rules in criminal proceedings and justice systems. Therefore, it is of vital academic significance to examine the above questions.

Compared with issues such as “the system of imposing lenient punishments on those confessing to their crimes and accepting punishment”, “trial centralism”, “reform of the judicial system” and “reform of the supervision system”, acquittal has not yet been much investigated. Through literature review and empirical observation, research findings of acquittal can be divided into the following types according to the research object and content. The first type is presented as a theoretical research into the nature, effect, and jurisprudential basis of acquittal. Under this type of research, most scholars are interested in exploring acquittal for lack of evidence stipulated in the Criminal Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China. The second type is devoted to analyzing and examining the difficulty of acquittal (namely a low acquittal rate) and its causes from the perspective of inadequate restrictions imposed by public security organs, procuratorial organs and people’s courts, evidence standards, performance assessment, influence of public opinions, etc. This type of research also proposes corresponding countermeasures at the end. The third type conducts case analysis or empirical analysis of some cases acquitted of criminal charges, and focuses on studying reasons behind the low acquittal rate in Mainland China. Besides, a few scholars and judges have carried out a systematic theoretical research into acquittal, and proposed the theoretical path to build the acquittal mechanism for Mainland China.

As a kind of refereeing form, the judgment of innocence has its legitimacy basis. Crime is a fact that has happened, and the limited fact of human discovery ability and the limitation of Criminal procedure mechanism such as time, means and mode inevitably lead to the fact that the facts of the case as the object of cognition can not be discovered inevitably. And when the case is in doubt, in order to balance the interests of the conflict, the court needs to make a verdict of not guilty. Moreover, even if the investigative organs and procuratorial organs may directly make the decision not to deal with the innocence, but based on the law of litigation cognition, as well as the independence and authority of the judicial decision, the court may well overturn the charges of the investigating organs and procuratorial organs and make a verdict of innocence. It is precisely because of the above reasons, in the practice of criminal Procedure operation in various countries in the world, there are a considerable proportion of acquittals. By contrast, the low rate of acquittal in the Mainland and the recent occurrence of wrongs suggest that there may be some structural defects in the criminal procedure mechanism in the Mainland. On the face of it, the reason for the low rate of acquittal in the mainland is that the investigating authorities and procuratorial organs will make decisions on the treatment of innocence at the investigation stage and at the stage of examination and prosecution. However, the huge gap between the number of acquittals in the mainland and other decisions on the handling of innocence has reflected the special place in the structure of criminal proceedings in the Mainland.

This paper analyzes and comments causes behind the low acquittal rate among Chinese mainland courts from the perspective of the criminal proceedings structure. Meanwhile, the judicial practice status (namely “hidden acquittal”) is combined at an attempt to create an optimal reasonable thinking platform for the relationship between the proceedings structure and acquittal. Chinese mainland criminal proceedings theoretical research circles started to study the proceedings structure from the 1980s. Following introduction of the research category, the Chinese mainland criminal proceedings law was freed from the research scope of glossators, making development of a series of creative ideas, including the linear structure and triangular structure, assembly structure and “trial-centered structure”, “horizontal structure and vertical structure”, possible. All these ideas have provided solid theoretical support for criminal proceedings practice, law reform and law transplantation in Mainland China.

Based on a thorough literature review and the judicial phenomenon of a low acquittal and frequent wrongly-judged cases in Mainland China, this paper comes up with the research focus—relationship between the criminal proceedings structure and the distribution of judicial power. In 2014, the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee underpinned “trial centralism” as the proceedings system reform direction, and that realization of trial centralism relies on the criminal proceedings structure and the judicial system. After that, more research attention has been paid to the relationship and existence of public security organs, procuratorial organs and people’s courts. Therefore, more efforts should be made to explore “which proceedings functions are confused and centralized” in criminal proceedings, constitutional relationship among public security organs, procuratorial organs and people’s courts (labor distribution, cooperation, mutual restriction), etc. For example, Constitution and Organic Law of the People’s Procuratorates of the People’s Republic of China both establish the law supervision role of procuratorial organs, according to which procuratorial organs have the right to supervise court trials. The judicial power of procuratorial organs is not only important, but even slightly higher than the trial right exercised by courts. The procuratorial organs, while keeping legal supervision and criminal prosecution—two powers which are opposite to each other—to themselves, cannot ensure neutrality and detachment required by fair legal supervision. Therefore, this paper holds that the mutual influence between the power distribution of public security organs, procuratorial organs and people’s courts and the proceedings structure has directly restricted the acquittal rate from rising. At the same time, compared with “trial centralism” proposed by some scholars, the areas concerned by “trial-centered” proceedings system reform are much narrower. As a result, the “trial-centered” proceedings system reform is evolved into the technical reform with substantiation of court trial at the core. Hence, this paper regards value positioning of reform in the “trial-centered” policy discourse system as basically instrumental. In other words, reform can contribute to discovery of substantive truth and prevention of misjudged criminal cases. The technical trial centralism cannot adjust the existing criminal proceedings structure, notably the vertical structure of criminal proceedings. This has impeded it from coping with the low acquittal rate in Mainland China. As a proposition about the proceedings structure, trial centralism advocates a three-dimensional reform plan for criminal proceedings, which covers the content of different layers. Directly targeting at the structure of criminal proceedings, trial centralism pursues an overall and macroscopic reform of the structure of criminal proceedings. As to the vision of structural reform, the reform can reach the criminal proceedings on the microscopic dimension and the judicial system reform on the macroscopic dimension. Only in this way can more positive effects be achieved in tackling the low acquittal rate and the difficulty facing the criminal proceedings system in Mainland China.

In writing this paper, the author adopts methods from law interpretation studies, value analysis method, comparative research, and case study. Besides, social sciences research methods extending “from experience to theory” are also employed. Experience is derived from problems occurring in judicial practice and developed into general theories. To be specific, the above research methods are mainly used in the following aspects. First, empirical facts are adopted as the basis of the whole paper, ensuring the paper to be objective and free from any interests and laying a solid foundation for empirical factors. Second, local phenomena are studied with relevant problems pointed out. It is found that there are lots of problems existing in the acquittal formation mechanism adopted by judicial practice in Mainland China. These problems provide favorable resources for the author to study problems confronting China’s development using the social sciences research methods. Based on all the above stated, the author adopts the research path of “from experience to theory”. To be specific, relevant theories both at home and abroad are used to explain empirical facts of China’s legislation and judicial practice. Due to the failure to seek a sensible explanation, the attempt is made to analyze and propose a theory with Chinese characteristics.

Apart from the introduction part, this paper is made up of seven chapters. The introduction part mainly expounds on the research background, literature review, research methods, and paper structure.

Chapter 1 focuses on analyzing basic issues concerning acquittal. Though acquittal is commonly-mentioned, its connotation and extension have not yet been clarified. Different scopes of law and contexts usually generate different definitions of acquittal. In order to clarify the argumentation focus of this paper, it is necessary to define and expound on the connotation and extension of acquittal. Besides, no case filing, case withdrawal, no prosecution, prosecution withdrawal and trial termination as well as termination of proceedings in Anglo-American Law are all methods to realize acquittal in criminal proceeding. Differences and similarities among them are essential to a correct interpretation of the acquittal phenomena in Chinese Mainland judicial practice.

Chapter 2 examines the bases for legitimacy of acquittal. In commenting the acquittal rate, particularly reaching the conclusion that Mainland China has a low acquittal rate, this chapter hiddenly recognizes one logic prerequisite, which thinks acquittal is legitimate and that a proper acquittal rate suggests a country’s criminal judicial mechanism operates normally. Then, what are the bases for legitimacy of acquittal? From the perspective of limitations of truth discovering capability, conflict and balance of interests, independence and authoritativeness of judicial jurisdiction, this chapter elaborates on the necessity and legitimacy of a proper acquittal rate.

Chapter 3 conducts an empirical research of acquittal among Chinese Mainland courts. Through data statistical analysis, seven characteristics demonstrated acquittal in Chinese Mainland courts in recent years are summarized. At the same time, cases withdrawn from prosecution or acquitted of criminal charges by an intermediate people’s court in recent five years are adopted as research samples. On that basis, the quantity of cases, causes behind case withdrawal and legal effects are investigated so as to reveal the relationship between prosecution withdrawal and acquittal. Moreover, this chapter chooses misjudged criminal cases as the research perspective. On the one hand, the judicial statistical information resources are gathered to explore institutional problems resulting in misjudged criminal cases. On the other hand, the current theoretical research findings are combined to seek innovation and breakthrough. The traditional investigation paths and methods for misjudged criminal cases are inherited. For example, the typical cases are analyzed combining case summary and individual case analysis. The questionnaire survey is conducted to further study problems leading to misjudged criminal cases in Mainland China at an attempt to find out causes of the small acquittal rate in Mainland China from the microscopic perspective. This is also one innovation of the research perspective for the issue of acquittal.

In Chapter 4, based on “hidden acquittal” in judicial practice, another cause of the low acquittal rate is descriptively analyzed. Due to existence of various acquittal processing mechanisms in judicial practice, this paper defines various acquittal mechanisms excluding acquittal in judicial practice as “hidden acquittal”, which mainly includes no case filing, prosecution withdrawal, no prosecution decision, and flexible verdict. In analyzing and concluding types and functions of “hidden acquittal”, this chapter comes to the conclusion that these acquittal mechanisms all rely on coordination and compromise among public security organs, procuratorial organs and people’s courts, which is established against the backdrop of the special relationship among public security organs, procuratorial organs and people’s courts in Mainland China as well as inadequate law system. This is an issue that Chinese Mainland criminal proceedings reform cannot ignore. Next, it is inferred whether “hidden acquittal” in Mainland China is a Chinese-style “precision justice”. This chapter points out that “precision justice” is just one characteristic of “hidden acquittal”, meaning that it cannot cover the total connotation of “hidden acquittal”. As to the negative effect of “hidden acquittal”, this chapter holds that it violates the principles, rules and basic spirit of criminal proceedings, which is not beneficial to guarantee rights of defendants and might impede further development of criminal proceedings.

Chapter 5 mainly expounds on the relationship between the criminal proceeding structure and acquittal. To analyze acquittal from the perspective of the structure of criminal proceedings is the focus and innovation of this paper. To start with, the prosecution-defense-judge main content and relationship in the horizontal and vertical structure of criminal proceedings are analyzed. Next, the origin and definition of the “inverted triangle structure” are introduced to analyze the position of procurators in criminal proceedings. It is thought that position of procurators is at the core of the contradiction concerning subjects in criminal proceedings. Following that, the causes of the low acquittal rate are examined from the perspective of the defending party and the accusing party. It is pointed out that the “inverted triangle structure” with inequality between the defending party and the accusing party as the main feature is a main cause of the low acquittal rate in Mainland China. Finally, the relationship between the “assembly-like” vertical structure and acquittal is analyzed. The conclusion shows that imbalance of the power among public security organs, procuratorial organs and people’s courts and incompleteness of their performance assessment system are also partially attributable to the low acquittal rate.

Chapter 6 discusses the relationship between the standard of proof and acquittal. In recent years, the standard of proof remains a main dispute in the theoretical and practice circles. As false and erroneous cases keep popping up in judicial practice, legislators and judicial workers have all regarded the standard of criminal evidence as an initial attempt to cope with the above problem. In this chapter, the internal relationship between the standard of proof and acquittal is analyzed from three aspects. On that basis, the historical evolution process of the standard of proof for criminal cases in Mainland China is summarized, aiming at extracting the internal logic behind transformations of the standard of proof. Finally, the development path and trend of the standard of proof are concluded. The clarity and operability of the standard of proof are further certified. This can provide legal basis for acquittal for lack of evidence.

Chapter 7 deals with the rational return of acquittal based on the path of trial centralism. First, on the basis of analyzing and evaluating the “trial-centered” proceedings system reform in Mainland China, this chapter discusses the path to realize “trial centralism”, thinking that the “trial-centered” proceedings system reform has been evolved into the technical reform with court trial substantiation at the core. Second, it is proposed that countermeasures can be explored by adjusting the trial-centered technical reform to institutional reform, adjusting the substantiation of court trials via the horizontal structure of criminal proceedings, and reshaping of the vertical structure.

    Research areas

  • acquittal, structural of criminal proceedings, standard of proof, trial centralism, distribution of judicial power