Chapter

The Trial: Courtroom Spectacle and Ethical Sentiment in the Rule of Law

Eugenia Lean

in Public Passions

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9780520247185
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520932678 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520247185.003.0005
The Trial: Courtroom Spectacle and Ethical Sentiment in the Rule of Law

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The trial of Shi Jianqiao turned out to be a highly complex legal affair. The court case began on November 21, 1935, only eight days after the assassination, with the local prosecutor filing an official charge against female defendant Shi Jianqiao in the Tianjin District Court. The trial fostered a spirited public discussion of the moral authority of qing, the relationship between public sympathy and the “rule of law,” and the national significance of filial piety. While granting leniency and implicitly acknowledging the power of public sympathy, the judges of the trial grounded Shi Jianqiao's righteous motive of passion in what they claimed was a moral right to due process and thereby turned the sensational event into an opportunity to reassert the foundational power of law. The end result was that Shi's sentence was reduced from ten to seven years.

Keywords: Shi Jianqiao; Tianjin District Court; moral authority; filial piety; law; public sympathy

Chapter.  14669 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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