China's top court will take the opinions of lawyers into consideration when handling reviews of death sentences.
The Supreme People's Court issued a guideline asking judicial officers to take defense lawyers' opinions into account when deciding whether or not to execute a convict, aiming to ensure decisions are more accurate and avoiding wrongful convictions.
Under the guideline, with 10 articles, lawyers can contact the court to read, copy and record cases other than those that cannot be disclosed due to legal restrictions.
The court must arrange for judges to meet attorneys applying for a face-to-face defense in a timely manner, the guideline said, adding that such talks should be undertaken in the Supreme People's Court and must be recorded.
The result of a review must be delivered to lawyers within five days of a decision being taken, it added.
The guideline will be effective from Feb 1.
In 2010, procedures for dealing with reviews of death sentences were regulated by the court. After negotiating with lawyers' associations and seeking their opinions, the court issued a guideline, hoping to clarify procedures and respecting lawyers' rights.
Now, the court has established reading rooms for lawyers to research cases. Those who cannot visit Beijing are permitted to read materials and share opinions in local courts.
The court added that the guideline will be more practical for both judges and lawyers to tackle cases relating to death sentence reviews. It is also seen as an effective solution to reduce wrongful verdicts.