The second session of International Conference on Evidence Law and Forensic Science, sponsored by Key Laboratory of Evidence Science of the Ministry of Education (China University of Political Science and Law, CUPL), and co-sponsored by the Northwestern University School of Law, China University of Political Science and Law Publishing House and the Journal of Evidence Science, took place from July 25th to 26th, 2009 in Beijing. Experts from the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate Department and other practice departments, together with experts and scholars from overseas and domestic universities such as Northwestern University, USA, Widener University, Forensic Science Institute of University of Central Oklahoma, Oxford University, City University, University of Edinburgh, The University of Windsor, The University of New South Wales, the Australian National University, Dutch Supreme Court, Institute of Forensic Medicine and Forensic Science of Medical University Berlin, Germany, Korea University, Korean National Institute of Scientific Investigation, Forensic Room of Seoul National University, Peking University, Tsinghua University, Renmin University of China, China University of Political Science and Law, Chinese People's Public Security University, etc, participated in this symposium.
On this two-day conference, representatives organized in-depth discussions on subjects such as the interdisciplinary study of evidence science, the latest theoretical development of evidence law, ‘Uniform Provisions of Evidence of the People’s Court: A Proposal for Judicial Interpretations’, new progress in forensic science, humanity and evidence, and so on. The same as the first session, after the plenary session, branch meeting were organized according to the distinctions between the evidence law and forensic science. The participants conducted discussions in view of the development of evidence law and forensic science in various countries, and the absorption between each nation, which provided a great opportunity for scholars and practitioners from different countries, different areas and distinct subjects to exchange their ideas.
Professor Ronald J. Allen from Law School of Northwestern University, in his speech ‘Three Tasks in the Development of Evidence Science in China’, proposed the three tasks in China’s evidence science development: the coordination of the Chinese legal system with practical requirements and external environment, initiating extensive discussions on the rules of evidence, reaching a consensus on the establishment of a uniform evidence rule, micro-issues and macro-issues facing with China’s evidence law. In particular, Prof. Allen discussed four issues: the social meaning of judicial evidence, probability theory of judicial evidence, expert witness, the relationship between procedure and evidence. Attention should be given to these issues which showed universality in any legal system. However, China's political, social and economic development had specific characteristic where attentions and studies were needed.
Professor Adrian Keane from Law School of City University London talked about the applications of science related to human memory in the trial. He put forward some characteristics of human memory by presenting and analyzing the ‘memory and legal guidebook’ drafted by Mental Research Council Institute of British. Then he discussed the rules of guidance both outside the court and in the court respectively, finally, made the conclusion that although the application of such guidance was attractive in court decision, careful consideration and analysis was needed. Some research findings, not the same as described in the manual, had some disputes as well, however, such research made links between forensic science and evidence law.
Professor Douglas Walton from the University of Windson analyzed the argument visualization tools of corroborative evidence. Artificial intelligence and the demonstration research produced new tools for visual demonstration, which was very helpful to the analysis of different structures of reasoning in evidence law. Prof. Walton discussed plans for the analysis of evidence as proof visualization tools, and took the examples of expert witness evidence to explain how these work made the evidence analysis process become clearer and how to avoid the logical fallacy in the judgment of evidence. These kinds of studies also represented some new trends in the research of evidence science.
Chinese scholars were always giving close attention to the international evidence science theory, and had their responds as well. Professor Zhang Baosheng from CUPL proposed that because the system of legal evidence in China was showing internationalization and scientific features as the integration trend of two legal litigation system, the role of judges in China needed to be rebuilt: giving consideration to judges both neutral and dynamic, taking into account both disputes solver and justice distributor, matching man for findings of fact with man for value balance, and consideration must be given to both judges who had discretion and judges who applied rules. Besides, lots of scholars had deep discussions on the introduction of foreign rules of evidence and such issues as the migration in the process of the establishment of evidence rules in China.
‘Uniform Provisions of Evidence of the People’s Court: a Proposal for Judicial Interpretations’ drafted by Institute of Evidence Law and Forensic Science was also one of the hot topics in this conference. Trial courts participants from Dongcheng District, Beijing, Kunming, Yunnan Province, Dongying City, Shandong Province, Shunde District, Foshan City, Guangdong Province, proposed their opinion on rules of character evidence, cross-interrogation system in the trial, and so on; and offered their suggestions on the improvement of the Proposal. For instance, many held the opinion that our country’s character evidence should be mainly located in sentence phase, and exceptions for the exclusionary rule of character evidence should be set in the conviction constitution. Also comprehensive surveys and principles for admitted evidence of the character evidence for minors should be established.
Foreign experts also expressed their opinions, for example, Associate Professor Capowski analyzed the relationship between the Uniform Provisions of Evidence and the integration of two legal systems, he considered that although China's legal system had the characteristics of civil law system, there were quite a few similarities between the Proposal and the U.S. Federal Rules of Evidence, which marked a reform for China’s law system, and reflected the integration of two legal systems in which China was included for sure.
Participants of forensic science conducted extensive communications on issues of forensic science, which involved forensic examination, forensic pathology, forensic toxicology, material evidence technology, the development of DNA technology, evidence collection in crime scene of explosion case, computer forensics, forensic accounting, polygraph technology, criminal psychology, and court speech technology, etc.
The multidisciplinary research of evidence is still one of the unique features of this international conference. Participants from various academic fields including linguistics, semeiology, ‘guoxue’(studies of Chinese ancient civilization), philosophy, ancient Chinese and even textology expounded their views on the issue of evidence from different angles, and tried to link their research with evidence issues, so as to make a cross study. For instance, Professor Shuxian Ye from CASS(Chinese Academy of Social Sciences) discussed the changes from single evidence law to fourfold evidence law from the point of textology, who also showed the changes in the way of argument in textology. This kind of research methods, which was different from the study of the simple questions of evidence law, still provided reference for the study of evidence adoption and evidence collection, broadened the view of evidence science research and offered new ideas for the construction and improvement of the theory of evidence science.
Moreover, the scientific evidence becomes many researchers’ study objects and researching of the Evidence discipline itself had also gained some achievement. Dr. Nanning Zhang discussed the epistemology issue of scientific evidence: According to the function of scientific evidence in truth finding, we could review the basic theory and method of the epistemology in scientific evidence from both internal and external aspects. Firstly, internal epistemology was decided by the nature of scientific evidence itself, which help to understand the reliability of scientific evidence from the nature of renewable, causality, uncertainty and error rate; secondly, external epistemology was decided by factors out of scientific evidence in the process of truth finding, including the credibility of scientific expert and the faith and confirmation of the cognition subject. Therefore, based on the scientific evidence, truth discovery was a process to proof the reasonable faith of knowing subject.