Chen Haiyi (R) talks with a young offender at the Penitentiary for Juvenile Delinquents in Guangdong Province. [Xinhua]
Chen Haiyi, chief judge of the judicial tribunal for juvenile and family affairs at Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court has been involved in over 1,000 cases during her more-than-20-year-long career.
She has been called as a Judge Mother for her law enforcement skills and patient guidance of juveniles at decisive moments in their lives.
A Stern Judge
Chen recalls a case she dealt with. She and a court clerk knocked on the door of a house in remote Huangyang Township, Zunyi City, in southwest China's Guizhou Province.
They came there from thousands of miles away for the case of a boy named Xiaohu. The boy was suspected of robbing and killing a taxi driver as well as conducting several thefts. At the court, he repeatedly defended that he was actually one month younger than the age documented on his ID, which meant that he was still a juvenile when the crime occurred.
Chen thought if he stuck to this mistake, he would not believe in the justice of laws nor willingly own up. So in order to get clear about his age, she chose to pay a personal visit to his hometown.
Overcoming hardships in the mountainous roads, she finally reached the village and found his grandmother and neighbors. Eventually, it was proven that Xiaohu was right about his real age. The villagers' committee also issued a verification paper.
Back in Guangzhou, Chen told Xiaohu about her findings andXiaohu could not help shedding tears. Chen passed a judgement of the death penalty but with a stay of execution because of Xiaohu's age. Xiaohu pleaded guilty in court.
Chen said, "The court makes judgments based on hard facts and evidence. The exact date matters a lot." She underscored that she took this attitude with the aim of helping juveniles open future doors.
Another case was centered around a juvenile offender named Xiaozhi who killed a person and hurt two others after getting drunk. Xiaozhi was from a single parent family. His mother hoped that her son would be sentenced to a reprieve.
Faced with her weeping and begging for leniency, Chen explained patiently, "It's understandable that Xiaozhi didn't mean it when he was drunk. But the victim is also a single child. If the court makes no punishments, then it's unfair for the victim. It's in his best interest to make a confession and plead guilty."
Finally, Xiaozhi opened his heart and apologized sincerely to the victim's families in tears. His mother together with other juveniles' parents kneeled down to beg for forgiveness and offered to compensate the victim'sfamily. After reaching a criminal reconciliation, Xiaozhi was sentenced to four years – a more leniant punishment.
Now Xiaozhi operates a restaurant and lives a normal life. He has expressed much gratitude for Chen to teach him the first law lesson in his life. One of Chen's colleagues evaluated her this way, "She treated evidence with a magnifying glass while sentenced with a caliper."
A Benevolent Mother
Chen has two standards in hearing juvenile cases, namely, rationality as a judge and tenderness as a mother. Besides helping children who are shy to opening up, Chen also tries to communicate with parents and restore their stricken relationship.
Her colleague Yao Bin said, "She is always gentle and patient even if sometimes the parents are indifferent or in a hurry. I've witnessed the picture when children and parents cried and made their confession. I decided to learn from her and I now manage to find the parents and do enough investigation before a case is heard."
A Life Mentor
In fact, Chen helped a large number of juvenile offenders walk out of predicaments and choose their future directions. Over 300 of them were admitted into senior high schools and technical secondary schools and over 30 enrolled in universities.
Chen revealed her own secret. She herself was a naughty student in primary school. "Almost no teachers cared about me except one who educated me patiently and gave me chances to display myself," she said. The teacher told her, "Children are like seedlings. They need watering and trimming before blooming. Once awake, they will present you the beauty of spring."
Chen remembered the words and decided to treat every juvenile offender kindly.
(Source: news.xinhuanet.com/Translated and edited by Women of China)