Shanghai courts have improved their efficiency in handling complex cases, ranging from juvenile crime to finance, after setting up teams of specialist prosecutors, according to a senior official.
The city established four small groups in Pudong New Area in March last year to focus on the rising number of cases involving finance, intellectual property, abuse of power and juveniles.
Over the past year, the number of cases concluded by these groups has far surpassed that of their colleagues, according to Zhang Bencai, director of the Shanghai People's Procuratorate, the city's top prosecuting authority.
"Such groups also allow prosecutors to quickly become more professional in cases of a particular type, putting them on a fast track to becoming experts," he said in a recent interview with China Daily.
"Moreover, approval and administrative procedures for the leaders of each group have been streamlined as much as possible."
The requirements for the team leaders were strict, he said. Each person had to have at least 10 years of experience as a prosecutor and at least six years in the particular case field.
Team assistants also have to be potential successors, Zhang added, and the leader must be a role model to lead and teach them, so as to cultivate future professional talent.
Wu Juping, who leads the team specializing in financial crimes and intellectual property, said her team members include two prosecutors with nearly 10 years of experience in the field, two assistants with excellent work performance and a secretary.
Wu said that as leader of the group she is authorized to decide on case management and administration in 22 areas, including how to prosecute a case.
"I independently made decisions for more than 80 percent of the cases handled by my team last year and in most of them the accused were eventually found guilty in court," she said.
Shi Jinglan, a prosecutor for more than two decades and leader of another team, said the pilot project had given them a stronger sense of responsibility in each case.
Zhang said teams specializing in cases related to the Shanghai Free Trade Zone and those involving destruction of environmental resources will be established this year.
Shanghai's judicial authorities have also said they will carry out calculations to set a reasonable number of cases that a judge should be able to deal with in a year.
"The average number of cases handled by a Shanghai judge climbed to 261 last year, which topped the country, and judges said they felt a lot of pressure," said Liu Xiaoyun, president of Shanghai High People's Court.