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Hearings a step closer to dream

By Cao Yin | China Daily | Updated: 2018-06-20 09:58

Ma Zhonglan (left), a people's assessor working at Beijing Haidian District People's Court, talks with a judge after a case hearing in May last year. Provided To China Daily

Ma Zhonglan, 67, has been a people's assessor at Beijing Haidian District People's Court since she retired from work at a publishing company 10 years ago.

I'd had a dream of studying law when I was a child, because my father graduated in law from Yenching University, which was formed out of the merger of four Christian colleges in Beijing between 1915 and 1920.

I became a people's assessor in the district court in 1994 after a recommendation from the publisher. But I spent little time on this role because I was busy with my own work.

I began focusing on the assessor job after I retired 10 years ago. I never thought it a waste of time, as it could take me closer to my dream.

Most trials I participate in are domestic disputes. The importance of hearing such cases, I believe, is not to provide litigants with simple court rulings. Instead, solving their conflicts and avoiding their problems becoming more serious is the best ending.

I attended a case hearing in which a man was sued because he refused to look after his mother after inheriting the family's properties. Both parties were emotional during the trial, which the court had to stop hearing temporarily.

I took the initiative to talk to the defendant. He became hesitant to answer when I asked him when was the last time that he went home. I realized his shame, and persuaded him to take his mother's favorite food home quickly.

It was a quarrel instead of a real dispute in the family, so the best way to alleviate the problem was to mediate and help the two parties communicate with each other. A few weeks later, the mother dropped the lawsuit.

Attending juvenile case hearings is different from mediating domestic disputes.

For example, I took a great deal of time to educate a 16-year-old boy after he was convicted of selling drugs, because I found his family members didn't care for him. After monitoring his rehabilitation and patiently hearing what he was thinking, we became closer.

I could not describe how happy I was when he called me "grandma" and told me he planned to study law. That's the value of assessors. We are from the people, and we should finally be taking back what we learn in case hearings to them.

Ma Zhonglan spoke with Cao Yin.

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