446 documents
Unless otherwise specified, the descriptions of sources in this section are extracted from Pierre-Etienne Will and collaborators,Official Handbooks and Anthologies of Imperial China: A Descriptive and Critical Bibliography (Leiden: Brill, forthcoming).
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TitleCheng An huibian 成案彙編[A Compilation of Leading Cases]
Short titleB3850600
Topic2.1 Judicial cases: general casebooks
Historical periodEarly Qing (1644-1796)
AuthorYaerhashan 雅爾哈善
Publication typeWoodblock
CommentThe prefaces suggest that the cases were collected by Zhou Xuejian when he was a vice director (貳秋官) at the Ministry of Justice and was able to make copies of “thousands” of them. Having been promoted to Governor of Fujian, he noticed that since the cases originating from each particular province are not circulated outside it after they have been concluded, provincial officials as a rule lack a comprehensive understanding of the cases adjudicated by the central authorities and are limited to a narrowly provincial approach. Yaerhashan, the provincial judge of Fujian, was able to classify more than two thousand of the cases collected by Zhou and published them with the latter’s approval. The work, whose production was completed in the 5th month of 1746, includes relevant memorials issuing from all six ministries, arranged following the order of the laws in the penal code. The fanli is especially clear about the use of analogy (比附) or comparison (比照) in judging cases, and the usefulness of maintaining a database of leading cases to illustrate the underlying reasoning and serve as models, if not as “precedents” with legal authority. The 2,691 cases are numbered; 53% belong to the “punishments” section (刑律), of which two fifths are about violent crimes (with usually longer accounts); in general, the Ministry of Justice clearly dominates the process since it is in charge of adjudicating even cases that are also referred to other ministries. The mulu (in 2 juan at the beginning of the work) lists the cases one by one with rather long titles, some actually corresponding to two or more cases. Besides leading cases (cheng’an), there are also “rejected cases” (bo’an 駁案), i.e. whose eventual closure is not known.
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