'Judge Mercy' chosen as delegate for Party congress
Judge Huang Zhili [Photo/jcrb.com]
Huang Zhili, also known as "Judge Mercy", works at a local court in Fujian province. Having heard more than 5,000 cases during the past 12 years, she believes that justice starts with mediation to try and resolve issues before the parties head to court.
The 45-year-old, who presides at the Xiangcheng People's Court in Zhangzhou city, handles about 500 cases annually.
In July, she was elected as a delegate to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. She will travel to Beijing to attend the meeting, which will start on Oct 18.
Huang has visited every village and community within her court's jurisdiction, and has spoken with nearly 10,000 plaintiffs and defendants to resolve cases, familiarize herself with local customs and discover the core reason behind every case.
She said emotions are at the root of most cases, which reflects damaged human relations in society.
"When we judge cases, we should not only give a verdict, but also help to repair relations that are damaged, no matter whether the case is between couples, parents and children, or neighbors," she said.
One 2010 case stands out in her mind. It involved two brothers in their 70s, who inherited an old apartment from their father. In his will, the father designated one half of the apartment to each brother, with a courtyard connecting the two parts.
However, as a result of friction between their children, the younger brother installed an iron gate in the courtyard. In response, the older brother asked the court to intervene and ensure the property was divided in accordance with their father's will.
Huang paid about 12 visits to the brothers during the case, because she thought "it would be a great pity if the brothers cut off contact with each other".
Her efforts finally won through, resulting in reconciliation between the brothers and the removal of the gate.
The younger brother was grateful to Huang for her dedication, saying it would have been one of the biggest regrets of his life if his relations with his brother had descended into animosity.
Xiong Jianzhou, a construction worker from Guizhou province, also had reason to be grateful for Huang's professionalism and diligence. The company he worked for had been withholding his salary until Huang took the case and ensured he received everything he was due.
"I thought judges were stern and serious, like in TV shows. However, Huang, the first judge I ever met, has a big smile and was just like an old friend of mine."
In 2012, Huang and a number of colleagues established an office in Xiangcheng district to provide legal services to people in the neighborhood before they appealed to the court.
The office offered pretrial mediation and legal consultations to residents and villagers twice a week, greatly reducing the number of lawsuits. There are now five such offices in the district.
Huang said she learned a lot from her late mother, who was warm-hearted toward her neighbors.
"We came to Zhangzhou from Nanjing (Jiangsu province) when I was young. My mother would offer a hand to whoever came to her for help, no matter whether she knew them or not," she recalled.
Lin Xiaoping, a court clerk who has worked with Huang for three years, said, "Huang concerns herself with other people's troubles and tries her best to solve them," adding that the judge maintains a simple lifestyle.
Huang has even put pen to paper to make notes to record her guiding philosophy.
"Handling every case is like sowing seeds. Some seeds are about abiding by the law, while some are about love and friendship. I'm not sure whether every seed will sprout and grow, but I will be gratified if one or some of the 100 seeds I have sown grows."