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Unformatted Document Text:  12 facts to a case. Most lay litigants, however, prefer narrating chronologically, describing everyday life details, stressing emotions, etc., which is inductive in nature. O’Barr (1982) concluded that legal decision-making was affected by speech styles in the courtroom—powerful speech style, the preferred courtroom language style, was correlated with high credibility, thus favorable decisions. In Chinese criminal courts, defendants tend to account for their behaviors by using everyday logic. These accounts are easily nullified by legal rules. One guiding trial rule is ‘let evidence and facts speak’. The word “evidence” possesses persuasive and coercive force. Once something is credited as valid “evidence,” it becomes undisputable. In Chinese criminal courts, one routine procedure is the presiding judge’s announcement of the court’s evaluation of the pieces of evidence and facts presented— what is confirmed by the court and why as well as what is rejected and the reasons therefor. In Excerpt # 9, the presiding judge invokes one factual rule to invalidate the defendant’s account. Excerpt # 9 [IK1.CRT.V.1999] 01 Q: Defendant xxx, next I’m going to ask you several questions. After you 02 got to the market, why did you kill people with your knife? 03 R: At that time I was thinking of taking revenge against my boss. I wasn’t bent 04 on killing other people. 05 Q: You wanted to take revenge against your boss. But were the people killed 06 by you your boss whom you wanted to revenge against? 07 R: No, they were not. The defendant’s account that he was not bent on killing people but taking revenge against his boss is nullified as groundless since the presiding judge destroys his claim by pointing out the factual truth that the people he killed were not his boss against whom he claimed that he was taking revenge. One point to note in this example, the invalidating question in lines 05 and 06, besides evoking factual rules, also invokes cultural and moral rules. The moral rule appealed to here is that no one should kill or injure innocent others. The televised show of this trial gave a name to the case, “Killing the innocent; A crime against nature (Tianli).” The fact that the four victims were either small girls or women, who are considered weak and defenseless in Chinese culture, makes the defendant even more unforgivable. In this

Authors: Chang, Yanrong.
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facts to a case. Most lay litigants, however, prefer narrating chronologically, describing everyday life
details, stressing emotions, etc., which is inductive in nature. O’Barr (1982) concluded that legal
decision-making was affected by speech styles in the courtroom—powerful speech style, the preferred
courtroom language style, was correlated with high credibility, thus favorable decisions.
In Chinese criminal courts, defendants tend to account for their behaviors by using everyday
logic. These accounts are easily nullified by legal rules. One guiding trial rule is ‘let evidence and facts
speak’. The word “evidence” possesses persuasive and coercive force. Once something is credited as
valid “evidence,” it becomes undisputable. In Chinese criminal courts, one routine procedure is the
presiding judge’s announcement of the court’s evaluation of the pieces of evidence and facts presented—
what is confirmed by the court and why as well as what is rejected and the reasons therefor.
In Excerpt # 9, the presiding judge invokes one factual rule to invalidate the defendant’s account.
Excerpt # 9 [IK1.CRT.V.1999]
01 Q: Defendant xxx, next I’m going to ask you several questions. After you
02 got to the market, why did you kill people with your knife?
03 R: At that time I was thinking of taking revenge against my boss. I wasn’t bent
04 on killing other people.
05 Q: You wanted to take revenge against your boss. But were the people killed
06 by you your boss whom you wanted to revenge against?
07 R: No, they were not.
The defendant’s account that he was not bent on killing people but taking revenge against his
boss is nullified as groundless since the presiding judge destroys his claim by pointing out the factual
truth that the people he killed were not his boss against whom he claimed that he was taking revenge.
One point to note in this example, the invalidating question in lines 05 and 06, besides evoking factual
rules, also invokes cultural and moral rules. The moral rule appealed to here is that no one should kill or
injure innocent others. The televised show of this trial gave a name to the case, “Killing the innocent; A
crime against nature (Tianli).” The fact that the four victims were either small girls or women, who are
considered weak and defenseless in Chinese culture, makes the defendant even more unforgivable. In this


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