INTRODUCTION

CASE 7:  Homicide and the Law in 18th Century China

by Thomas Bouye (University of Tulsa)
 

Every day judges around the world decide if someone lives or dies, goes to prison or remains free, or pays compensation for harm done to others. The power of the judge is awesome, but what if a judge makes a mistake? Someone could die or an innocent person could spend years in prison. There is lots of room for abuse, or bribery. How does the system ensure that judges don’t abuse their powers? Modern legal systems are far from perfect: sometimes, innocent people are punished, and sometimes judges take bribes. But nonetheless there is a complex system of checks in place to help ensure that judges weigh their decisions carefully. In pre-modern China, too, there was a system of checks designed to keep the local magistrate honest. Read about the Chinese Magistrate.

Title page of the Murder case of Wen Shaolong

How did it work? How well did it work? In this case study you’ll learn about a murder case in 18th century China and follow in detail the operation of legal checks and procedures as the drama unfolds.

Want to know more? Have a look at the next section: WHAT IS THIS THING?

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