Year : 2019 | Volume
: 5 | Issue : 1 | Page : 40--56
Chasing truth from the perspective of history
Department of English, School of Foreign Languages, China University of Political Science and Law, Beijing, China
Prof. Luping Zhang
Department of English, School of Foreign Languages, China University of Political Science and Law, Fuxue Lu 27, Changping District, Beijing 102249
This paper analyzes the development processes of the text on the narration of case facts until it finally be ascertained in trial. It is a subtle evolution process from evidence to the list of events and eventually to the factual text. It is a complex task to distinguish the content that would be inexorable once being proved and to reach consensus from the content that could only be presented through rhetoric. Meanwhile, this paper compares some existing documents of chronicles, annals, and narrative history with the events list and the factual text in Cui Yingjie Case so as to illustrate how the vertical evolution takes place in the description of the case as well as the differences of all evolution stages in judicial practice.
|How to cite this article:|
Zhang L. Chasing truth from the perspective of history.J Forensic Sci Med 2019;5:40-56
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Zhang L. Chasing truth from the perspective of history. J Forensic Sci Med [serial online] 2019 [cited 2019 Oct 17 ];5:40-56
Available from: http://www.jfsmonline.com/text.asp?2019/5/1/40/255129
An Overview of Cui Yingjie Case
Multiple versions about the case facts
This paper takes a criminal case which had caused a sensation throughout China as an example. First of all, let us take a thorough observation of the case and its evolution.
On August 11, 2006, at the outside of Kemao Building in Zhongguancun, Beijing, vendor Cui Yingjie had a dispute with Li Zhiqiang, Vice Captain of City Administration Group of Haidian District of Beijing Municipal Bureau of City Administration and Law Enforcement. The conflict led to the death of Li Zhiqiang. Cui Yingjie was subsequently arrested and prosecuted to Beijing First Intermediate People's Court. The case facts directly determined the conviction and penalty of the defendant, which was also the main issue of contention among all relevant parties in the case and people outside the court at all trial stages. Multiple versions of case facts came into being in the debate and narration of the pending case. The author scrutinizes four relatively palpable and representative versions hereof.
It should be noted that first, the four versions of texts are within professional scope to ensure the quality of the analysis and the persuasiveness of the conclusion. In general, texts with obvious literary characteristics are excluded, such as media reports and folktales (the narrow sense of “literature,” as mentioned in the introduction chapter, is generally considered as the narrative that embraces features such as conspicuous and overt emotional exaggeration and imaginative plots). Those texts are derived from The Written Opinion Recommending Prosecution issued by the Public Security Department, Indictment issued by the Prosecution, the defense opinions of the defender, the confession made by the defendant, and the advisory opinions of legal professionals outside the court. Second, the four versions are the summary of author's analysis rather than the indiscriminate copy of existing narrations. Specifically, this paper quotes and analyzes the original texts of the Written Opinion Recommending Prosecution, the Indictment, and the final judgment which described the facts. Moreover, the stories that the defender and the defendant attempted to narrate might be mingled with their contentions toward factual details.
In the afternoon on August 11, 2006, vendor Cui Yingjie was selling barbecued sausages without license by the street of the northwest corner of Kemao Building in Zhongguancun Science Park of Haidian District, Beijing. The law enforcement officers of City Administration Group of Haidian District of Beijing Municipal Bureau of City Administration and Law Enforcement punished Cui Yingjie for unlicensed business activity and confiscated his tools including tricycle and stove. Cui Yingjie violently impeded law enforcement in the process of confiscation and held a knife to threaten the officers. After the confiscation, Cui Yingjie held grudge against the officer and intended to revenge, so he thrust the leaving officers with his knife and gave a fierce stab on Li Zhiqiang's vital part between the neck and the collarbone. The stab injured the victim's right brachiocephalic vein and the right upper lobe and caused Li's death.
In the afternoon on August 11, 2006,… The law enforcement officers …, punished Cui Yingjie for unlicensed business activity and confiscated his tools including tricycle and stove. During the process of confiscation, Cui Yingjie fought for the tricycle with the officers and kept holding the knife that he used to cut sausages. After the tricycle was confiscated, Cui Yingjie rushed to the officers' truck but was chased by the officers. When Cui Yingjie was escaping, he stabbed the vice leader of the City Administration Group, Li Zhiqiang, and the officer was dead after being sent to the hospital.
Born in a small village of Pingyang Town, Fuping County, Baoding City, Hebei Province, Cui Yingjie was a poor farmer and earned his living by working as a temporary security guard in an entertainment club in Kemao Building in Zhongguancun Science Park, Beijing. Since April 2006, the employer had been behind in payment for 4 months. Be cornered by poverty, Cui Yingjie chose to be a vendor and sell barbecued sausages to make a living. In the afternoon on August 11, 2006, the law enforcement officers of City Administration Group of Haidian District punished Cui Yingjie for unlicensed business activity and confiscated his tools. Since the tricycle was bought by borrowed money, Cui Yingjie begged the officers to leave behind the tricycle but only to find out the indifference of the officer. Cui Yingjie left the scene and went back again to find the girl who sold sausages with him and happened to see his tricycle being loaded on the officer's truck. Cui Yingjie rushed to the truck for a final try to get his property back but was prevented by the officer. Being afraid of the compulsion in disarray, Cui Yingjie was anxious to escape and carelessly scratched his knife to the side, resulting in a stab on the vice leader Li Zhiqiang who was dead after being sent to the hospital.
Born in a small village of Pingyang Town, Fuping County, Baoding City, Hebei Province, Cui Yingjie was a poor farmer and earned his living by working as a temporary security guard in an entertainment club in Kemao Building in Zhongguancun Science Park, Beijing. Since April 2006, the employer had been behind in payment for 4 months. Be cornered by poverty, Cui Yingjie borrowed money from his friends to buy tools including tricycle and stove to make a living by selling barbecued sausages on the street. In the afternoon on August 11, 2006, the law enforcement officers of City Administration Group of Haidian District punished Cui Yingjie for unlicensed business activity and confiscated his tools. At that time, the officers neither wore uniforms nor presented any identity document. What's worse, they failed to produce any official documents including the written decision of administrative penalty. There even was not any oral explanation. Cui Yingjie mistakenly thought that he was robbed or extorted. Failed to get his tricycle back by imploration, he left the scene and went back to find the girl Zhao who sold sausages with him. Then, he saw his tricycle being loaded onto the truck. When Cui Yingjie made a final try to get his property back, he carelessly stabbed the vice leader of the City Administration Group Li Zhiqiang by the knife in his hand. The victim was dead after being sent to the hospital.
Which version tells the fact?
In accordance with legal common sense, the four versions would lead to entirely different judicial results under criminal law. Therefore, they could not be valid at the same time. To find the only “truth,” first people would think of evidence. The credible evidence listed in the court judgment is as follows.
Survey and authentication report along with physical and documentary evidence
According to the Record on Forensics Examination and photographs on the spot provided by criminal and investigation team in Haidian Sub Office of Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, the site was located on the right lane of the southeast side of the main road on No. 1 Bridge in Zhongguancun Science Park, Beijing. The central scene was on the right lane 30 m southward of the main road intersections from south to north park lane on the southeast side of No. 1 Bridge in Zhongguancun Science Park. In the scene, there was a 1.7-m-long blood on the ground (had been extracted) and a red plastic handle (had been extracted) aside. In the office of City Administration Group of Haidian District on the underground floor in Hailong Building, there was the tricycle (had been used by the defendant) with a red plastic scabbard (had been extracted) under stove, pan, and other items. In the emergency room in Haidian Hospital, a 10.5-cm long and 2.3-cm wide blade (according to the briefing, the blade was removed from Li Zhiqiang's in emergency rescuing) was extracted from Yin Zhaojiang in City Administration Group of Haidian DistrictA piece of cloth, which has been submitted for inspection, was found in the 79th locker in the hallway of the monitoring room of the Security Department in Minggui Club on the eighth floor of Kemao Electronic Mall in Zhongguancun Science Park, Haidian District in Beijing.The Forensic Report in “Beijing the Public Law of Pathological Character (2006) No. 676 Autopsy Certification” issued by the Forensic Identification Center in Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau proved that there was a 10-cm long visible diagonal stripe wound on the left side of the laryngeal prominence, with slightly right direction below the subcutaneous superficial muscular layer, which led to the phleborrhexis on the right brachiocephalic from right thoracic cavity to the superior lobe of right lung. Li Zhiqiang died from the hemorrhagic shock caused by stabbing (like blade) hurt on the right brachiocephalic vein and the right upper lobeThe Forensic Report in “Beijing the Public Law of Physical Evidence Character (2006) No. 2747 Biological Evidence Certification” issued by the Forensic Identification Center in Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau proved and strongly supported that the two submitted blood stains at the scene and the blood stains on the blade and the cloth (the 79th locker in the hallway of the monitoring room of the security department in Minggui Club) were from Li ZhiqiangThe photographs of tricycle, blade, and knife handle and scabbard produced in the court were proved by the defendant Cui Yingjie as the items and lethal weapon he usedRegistration Form of Criminal Cases issued by Criminal Investigation Detachment of Haidian Sub Office of Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau proved that at 5:10 p.m. on August 11, 2006, crime reporter Cui Gonghai stated that during the law enforcement with Li Zhiqiang and other colleagues at the north corner of the Kemao Building in Zhongguancun Science Park, Haidian District, a man stabbed Li Zhiqiang in the neck. Li died after being sent to the hospitalThe Notes of Capturing the Accused and the Statement of Work issued by the Criminal Investigation Detachment of Haidian Sub Office of Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau proved that by investigation, Cui Yingjie had a major suspicion of committing a crime. At 3 p.m. of August 12, 2006, the Police summoned Zhang Lei, a friend of Cui Yingjie, from Jinbohan International Business Club in Haidian District, Beijing. According to Zhang Lei, Cui Yingjie claimed that he stabbed a city administration officer and needed money to hide away. Afterward, Cui Yingjie took the money provided by Niu Xuming and Duan Yuli and went to the hideout that Zhang Lei and Zhang Jianhua arranged. At 4 a.m. that day, Zhang Jianhua was arrested by the police at Jinbohan International Business Club in Haidian District. At 5:30 a.m., Cui Yingjie was arrested by the police at the fifth floor of the 72nd Building in Wanlian Villa in Tanggu Development Zone, Tianjing. At 4 p.m. on August 31, 2006, Niu Xuming was arrested by the police at Hengchang Technology Co. Ltd. in Zhongguancun Science Park in Haidian District, Beijing. At 9 a.m. on September 1, 2006, Duan Yuli contacted with the police and voluntarily surrendered himself. The police came to Kemao Building in Haidian District and took Duan Yuli away for further investigationThe Household Register Certificates issued by the relevant Public Security Departments verified the information including the name, date of birth, and address of Cui Yingjie, Zhang Lei, Niu Xuming, Zhang Jianhua, Duan Yuli, and the victim Li Zhiqiang.
The aforementioned evidence mainly takes the form of historical traces and tangible materials, such as the bloodstain and fingerprints left at the criminal scene, on the knife and the cloth. The wound on the victim's corpse, the type of lethal weapon, as well as the severity of the injury speculated from the wound are also evidence. Moreover, their most important role is to prove the existence of the case and to prove the relations between the case, key points, key events, and litigants (such as the defendant and the victim). For example, the defendant was on the scene, and the knife that injured Li Zhiqiang belonged to the defendant who did use the knife at the scene (Moreover, unnecessary details on subordinated evidence in the reorganization of the facts would not be given, such as historical documents used to verify the identities of people involved in the case).
Those punctuate traces left by history displayed punctuate events and the relation between the events and somebody. Although this kind of empirical existence and relation is one of the sections in the process of cognition, they do not have to be present through everyday language. Therefore, they could not form a factual text concerning the case because they are part of the “non-narrative” experience. Admittedly, physical traces left by history such as material evidence and crime scene investigation could provide evidence that is more credible than subjective memory and recollection in the perspective of natural science. However, for case facts which could only be understood and accepted through narration, this kind of evidence could only take supplementary effect.
As a matter of fact, people would come up with fragmented and punctuate impression once saw the following evidence: some bloodstains, a knife, a corpse, a suspect, and so on. However, people could not derive any narrative text about everyday discourse from the evidence (a complete story with characters, plots, causes, details, results, and thematic meaning). Therefore, the case and the things happened still remain unclear.
The video at the crime scene
“The live recording of the law enforcement proved: the officers punished Cui Yingjie for unlicensed business activity, but Cui Yingjie first held a knife to obstruct the officers' legal enforcement and then rushed to the officers' truck when they left.”
The testimony of the witness and defendant's confession
The testimony of the witness Cui Gonghai (a member of the City Administration Group of Haidian District, Beijing) proved: In the afternoon on August 11, 2006, when he and his men cleaned up unlicensed vendors at the northwest corner of Kemao Building in Zhongguancun Science Park, they saw Li Zhiqiang was chasing a man who was running after the law enforcement truck. Hence, Cui Gonghai joined the chasing. Later, the man stopped and walked fast toward them. Li Zhiqiang was talking to other colleagues as the man walked behind them. When Li Zhiqiang turned back, the man rushed toward him a dagger in his right hand, giving a stab on Li Zhiqiang's neck and running away.
The Identification Notes issued by the Public Security Department proved: After recognizing 12 photographs of different male faces, witness Cui Gonghai identified that the man (Cui Yingjie) on the Photograph No. 2 was the man who killed Li Zhiqiang by dagger.
The testimony of the witness Di Yumei (a staff in City Administration Group of Haidian District, Beijing) proved: In the afternoon on August 11, 2006, she and her colleagues were cleaning up unlicensed vendors in Zhongguancun Science Park. When they came to the northwest corner of Kemao Building, they saw a man and a woman were selling barbecued sausages by the street.
The vice leader Li Zhiqiang led the officers to seize the vendor's tricycle, but the male vendor kept holding a dagger in his right hand to obstruct law enforcement. He pushed and shoved with the officers to prevent them from confiscating the stall. Then, some officers loaded the vendor's tricycle on the truck. To protect it from being confiscated, the female vendor cried, yelled, and held the front wheel of tricycle. After several officers dragged the female vendor away, Li Zhiqiang stood at the right side of the truck she was sitting in and told the driver to leave. When Li Zhiqiang turned back, the male vendor jumped over the guardrail and gave a head-on stab on the left side of his neck. Then, the male vendor swung his hand, and the blade was broken. After throwing the dagger on the ground, the male vendor turned around and ran into an alleyway.
The Identification Notes issued by Public Security Department proved: after identifying 12 photographs of different male faces, witness Di Yumei recognized that the man (Cui Yingjie) on the photograph No. 10 was the man who killed Li Zhiqiang by dagger.
The testimony of the witness Lu Fucai (the assistant manager of the City Administration Group of Haidian District, Beijing) proved: In the afternoon on August 11, 2006, they were cleaning up unlicensed vendors in Zhongguancun Science Park. At about 5 p.m., when Li Zhiqiang and five assistant managers went on patrol to the alleyway on the north side of Kemao Electronic Mall, they saw a man protected a tricycle with a fruit knife in his hands. Li Zhiqiang told the man to put down the knife and pulled the tricycle, but the man refused. Failed to protect his tricycle, the man ran toward a courtyard. Then, Li Zhiqiang told the officers to load the tricycle on the truck. After a while, the man with knife went back only to find his tricycle had been taken away. Hence, he went straight toward Li Zhiqiang to give him a stab on his neck and ran away.The testimony of the witness Zhang Jianguo proved: At about 4 p.m. on August 11, 2006, when they carried out law enforcement activities with City Administration Group to the north side of Kemao Electronic Mall in Zhongguancun Science Park, they found two unlicensed Xinjiang vendors selling cantaloupe and a male vendor selling sausages at the entrance of an alleyway. They confiscated the tricycle cart of one of the Xinjiang vendors. However, they had not gone far before they heard loud noise behind. When they turned back, they saw Li Zhiqiang standing by the street side covered in blood with more blood squirting from the front part of his neck.
The Identification Notes issued by Public Security Department proved: After identifying 12 photographs of different male faces, witness Zhang Jianguo recognized that the man (Cui Yingjie) on the first photograph was the vendor who sold sausages at the scene.
The testimony of the witness Zhao Qiaoran proved: one of her father's friends told her that Cui Yingjie worked as a security guard in Kemao Building in Zhongguancun Science Park of Haidian District, Beijing. At other times, Cui Yingjie would sell barbecued sausages on the streets and wanted someone to assist him. Since she would like to have a job in Beijing, Zhao arrived in Beijing in the afternoon on August 10, 2006. The next afternoon, she and Cui Yingjie made sausages at Cui's residence. At about 4 p.m., she and Cui Yingjie were selling barbecued sausages near the Kemao Building in Zhongguancun Science Park. Afterward, the officers of City Administration Group intended to confiscate their tricycle and sausages, so Cui Yingjie took a knife to threaten the officers from confiscating the tricycle. When the officers loaded the tricycle on a truck, she begged them and pulled the tricycle. Later, she saw Cui Yingjie running away. Standing for a while, she left the scene as well.The testimony of the witness Jia Fengxiang proved: At about 8 p.m. on August 11, 2006, he got a call from his friend Zhang Lei and was told that Cui Yingjie, one of Zhang's friends, wanted to find him. Zhang Lei also asked for his address in Tianjin and told him to meet Cui. At about 10 p.m., Cui called him to set up a date place. Then, he took Cui back to his dormitory. The next morning, the police came to the dormitory and arrested Cui.The testimony of the witness Fan Baoshan proved: At about 5 p.m., he heard from his friend who worked in Kemao Center that Cui Yingjie wounded a city administration officer. Then, he met Duan Yuli at the first floor and told Duan that Cui seemed to wound a city administration officer.The testimony of the witness Fang Wenqi proved: At about 5 p.m. on August 11, 2006, Duan Yuli borrowed his mobile phone and did not give it back until the next morning. His mobile phone model was Siemens S65.The defendant Cui Yingjie made the confession during the investigation: At about 4 p.m. of August 11, 2006, upon he set up his stall, the officers came and wanted to confiscate his tricycle. He refused and took a knife as a threat. Later, the officers loaded his tricycle on the truck. He wanted to get his tricycle back, but the truck had driven away. Failed to catch up, he felt so enraged and intended to revenge, so he stabbed the foremost officer by the knife.
People with some judicial common sense and experience could easily understand that both the testimony of the witness and the confession by the defendant are evidence of vital significance. Such significance does not lie in the substantive law or procedural law but in cognition. As mentioned before, although natural objects have already provided relatively reliable evidence concerning experience, they hardly make contribution to the complete picture of the formation of facts. Since the testimony and confession are narrative and belong to everyday language, people would not be conscious of the emergence of the events or start to ponder the case before reading the above evidence carefully. Moreover, only then, the physical evidence could come into play to support or deny people's different imaginations concerning the case.
Of particular note is that every testimony of the witness and the confession of the defendant is one paragraph of narrative text which reproduces historical scenes. Although they have gone through the construction of rhetoric, they are different from the factual texts that are proved by the court verdict. Meanwhile, they are actually the narrative texts of the writers of court verdict, rather than the original words of the witnesses or the defendant. It is widely known that the descriptions of the case made by the witnesses and the defendant are mainly in the form of question and answer in the trial. Moreover, an important work of the judges is to extract raw materials from the trivial dialogs and adopt them into statement. Certainly, when looking back upon the nonverbal historical situation, the interlocutors remold the recalled historical context in the form of language. To say the least, let us temporarily omit the aforementioned factors, and regard those testimonies and confessions as original evidence, and see what on earth they can bring to us.
To be safe, part of the rhetoric in the testimony and the confession should be excluded. The confession made by the defendant here is far different from that he made in the court. Moreover, the description that “he felt so enraged and intended to revenge” in the confession was vehemently denied by the defense during the trial. However, since there is no evidence for such words, we will leave out this line. We will also exclude some words with obviously storytelling feature in some testimonies and some detailed narration which cannot be supported by other evidence, like the vivid expression of “he swung his hand” in the testimony of the witness Di Yumei.
In fact, the testimony of Di Yumei, the city administration staff, was the most detailed and the most expressive compared with other evidence. In her testimony, Li Zhiqiang had already foreseen the impending danger, so he warned her to drive the truck away. Moreover, she also somehow “saw” that Cui Yingjie jumped over the guardrail and went at Li Zhiqiang directly. According to her, Cui Yingjie did not only give a stab on the vital part of Li Zhiqiang but also deliberately “swung his hand” to break the blade. When reading the story, readers will definitely think that the defendant would not deliberately select a special victim and commit such brutal crime if it were not for his extremely intense hatred and evil mind.
However, judging from the video at the scene, if Di Yumei did sit on the driver seat of the truck, how did she clearly see what happened at the rear in just few seconds? How did she “see” many details that were not mentioned by other witnesses in the chaos? By contrast, people would definitely raise a rather alarming doubt.
Certainly, we do not doubt that Di Yumei perjured in the testimony. However, since narrative is much more complicated, it cannot be evaluated by lie or right and wrong. The author would like to remind readers that even the basic argument that “case facts are the outcome of narrative and rhetoric” is acknowledged, the process should not be simply regarded as single-line activity where a certain narrator (e.g. The judge) creates stories (case facts) directly based on materials (evidence). As material, evidence sometimes is a story told by the narrator. Different narrators provide various narrative texts through different ways in the legal process. Actually, justice is a platform where many narrators confront, communicate, integrate, and split up with many stories.
Next, based on all the evidence, we could see a fairly clear and incontrovertible sequence of the case.
First of all, the clues of the case are chronologically listed as follows:
In the early 2004, Cui Yingjie came to BeijingIn 2006, Cui Yingjie spread things for sale without license in Zhongguancun Science ParkOn August 11, 2006, Cui Yingjie's business was stoppedCui Yingjie had a dispute with people who stopped his businessCui Yingjie left the sceneCui Yingjie went back to the sceneLi Zhiqiang was stabbed by the knife in Cui Yingjie's handsLi Zhiqiang was dead after being sent to the hospitalOn August 12, 2006, Cui Yingjie was arrested by the Public Security Department.
Subsequently, the case is composed of several core events which were adopted by the procedure of examining witness in the court. Furthermore, all parties concerned had no controversy over the above events:
Cui Yingjie was a farmer who worked town, living in a plight as of 4 months of salary arrearsCui Yingjie borrowed money to buy tools such as tricycle and sold barbecued sausages by the street side of Zhongguancun Science Park without business licenseAt about 5 p.m. on August 11, 2006, City Administration Group officers came to Cui Yingjie's stall to investigate and penalize vendors without business licenseThe first group of officers did not wear uniforms or present any written documents or certificates, even without oral explanationsCui Yingjie had a dispute with the officers for his tricycle with a knife in his handThe tricycle was confiscated, and Cui Yingjie left the scene and was lost from Zhao who set up street stall with himCui Yingjie went back to the scene and rushed into the crowd with a knife in his handThe vice leader of the City Administration Group was stabbed by Cui Yingjie in the neck and was dead after being sent to the hospital.
Then, if we compare the four versions of case facts mentioned at the beginning of the paper, it is not difficult to find the following points: the four versions are within the framework of the above-mentioned case clues; The four versions are included in the above-mentioned eight events. However, readers would easily recognize the great differences from the list of clues to the list of events and finally to the factual texts. Although arrangement of the events makes them visually clear, closer scrutiny would reveal that they almost make no sense in specific judicial activities as there is no applicable law to draw a judgment. Many of these important legal issues are not resolved at all. On the other hand, although four versions all seem to be derived from the irrefutable eight events, they are quite different from each other. Moreover, this kind of difference would technically engender sever judicial divisions. However, what are the reasons hidden behind these phenomena? What factors lead to the vertical differences between the lists and the factual texts and the lateral differences among those texts? The study is going to answer these questions.
Why Evidence Does not Equal to Fact?
Broadly speaking, the reorganization of the reality of a past case can certainly be regarded as the recollection, record, and representation of history. However, the representation of history here embraces specialty, which means it can only be completed in the context of law. Furthermore, it has to actively and openly cater to specific legal targets, such as to meet the definition of the criminal charge and the criterion for imposing penalty. Different from imagination, people are not inclined to first find an external, objective, and self-fulfilling history and then to judge whether it is in accordance with the rules that the law has set for a certain problem. Actually, the order is reversed. The law has laid down what ways and what patterns we should follow to observe, search, and compile this part of history. For example, since Cui Yingjie Case is a criminal case, people's acts of searching for the case facts in the criminal tribunal were in the extent permitted by the adjective law. People are trying to fit the plot frame related to such a murder case in substantive law. The primary purpose of the situation where both writing and thinking mode of the facts have been already prescribed in the value and structure is to ensure the authenticity and the justice as far as possible. However, in reality, the special requirements for narrative and rhetoric may destroy and create the facts at the same time.
The manifestation mode of case facts and historical facts
Since case fact is generally about the representation of history, the author discusses the issue by adopting some terms and theories of historiography only to provide clear and concise discussion. As to the controversies in other subjects and the consequent influence on the adoption of theories in the study, the author will indicate and make explanations.
First of all, it should be noted that two groups of terms will be frequently employed in the study. The classification here only serves to provide concise content rather than correcting people's habits of diction in other situations. Therefore, the implication and the usage of the two groups of vocabularies are confined to this study only.
The first group: Evidence – event – fact
To provide a convenient and clear discussion, the author intends to make a distinction among the evidence, event, and fact. As to the evidence in the study, it points to the relatively stable traces left after a case, such as historical sites (crime scene, body, and physical evidence), documentation (written evidence), and witness recalls (witness testimony and client statement). Meanwhile, evidence in litigation should be a unity of its formation and content. The evidence used as analysis materials in Cui Yingjie Case (and Deng Yujiao Case) in the study is undisputed and admitted by court.
Event, the primary language record of the conditions in a case, is a historical circumstance which is directly reflected from evidence and an intuitive statement of the content. It also possibly excludes obvious literary rhetoric (not all rhetoric) according to people's common sense, such as the statement that “Cu Yingjie did not have business license” and the direct answers to questions like “whether Cui Yingjie had a dispute with the officers.”
The fact in the study is the final mature narrative text. It described the case and provided basis for court to make judgment. More importantly, fact, different from event, is a melodramatic panoramic view of the case with beginning, ending, plots, characters, fate, and definite meanings (of litigation and law).
The second group: Annals – chronicle – history (narrative history)
This group belongs to the general concept of history, which respectively refers to three kinds of genres of written history. As a basic type of historical records, annals use short phrases or sentences to record events and list those items with time order. It is also called chronology or chronicle of events and is now frequently used as appendix of long compilation of history usually with annual time unit. Chronicle is more detailed than annals in the record of events and shows an incomplete narrative tendency. History, also called “narrative history,” is a complete narrative story with consistent relations, structures, and meanings in event and time. The case facts required in judicial judgment is a case in point.
Although the above three words are commonsense notions, the study specially refers to the article written by Hayden White: The value of narrativity in the representation of reality and the essay written by German scholar Hershel: The new chronicle: An outline of historical theory. Admittedly, Hayden White's philosophy of history is one of the author's sources of inspiration and is valuable for the formation of the basic views in the study. Readers can also find that the author draws lessons from the analysis methods used in the value of narrativity in the representation of reality in this section. However, as to the actual argument and discussion, the author is not intended to (and cannot) follow Hayden White's thinking mode of relying on structuralism, especially when he narrowly regarded rhetoric and the factual narrative of history as metaphors (i.e. the narrowest result of the development of rhetoric from middle ages to modern times) after pointing out that the rhetoric had constructed the history. His understanding toward rhetoric is what the author criticizes. On the other hand, the specialty of the characters of legal issues is the focus of the study.
Moreover, it should be noted that the three genres are the results of basic and cursory classification with relatively strong cross-culture. Almost every civilization had undergone a process from complication to simplification after it had learned to record history by words, and Chinese are no exception. Meanwhile, genres can be classified in many other ways. For example, Prof. Qian Maowei in History Department of Ningbo University subdivided the process of textualization of early Chinese history into oral statement – fragmented record of events (such as inscriptions on bones or tortoise shells) – individual record of events (bronze inscription) – consecutive record of events (such as state history of Spring and Autumn period) – historical compilation (The Spring and Autumn Annals) – historical narrative (such as Zuo Commentary on the Spring and Autumn Annals) – human narrative (such as Historical Records). However, the standard of the classification is not based on the maturity level of narrative development, because word of mouth is regarded as a primary prehistory inferior to the record of events. However, actually, at the time when writing habit had not emerged, stories that were passed from mouth to mouth for widely spreading family history had borne more practiced narrative construction and skills than consecutive record and historical compilation. We can even say that it is easier to find flourishing and refine epics and legends among the crowd in the absence of words. The author chooses this classification not only for its merit of cross-culture but also because it reflects the evolution that written records have experienced in the narrative refinement.
Failed or incomplete formation of fact
Let us review the sequence of Cui Yingjie Case in the first section of this paper. In comparison, the chronological list the author adopted when summing up the clues of the case in the last section can be seen as annals. The list of the eight core events belongs to typical chronicle, while the four different versions of the case facts at the beginning of the paper are mature narration of historical texts. The author intended to “restore” the list of clues and events, but it neither means that such texts did occur in the trial nor all the narrative related to the trial must include the above three steps. Yet in practice, the author did find that judges write similar draft to help sort out their thoughts when carefully reading the files. Narrative text can directly draw its conclusion in individual cases. The author restores the above list with the purpose of giving necessary discussion. Readers who agree with the view of narrative construction in the study should be cautious about all texts in the study.
In the early 2004, Cui Yingjie came to BeijingIn 2006, Cui Yingjie sold things without license in Zhongguancun Science ParkOn August 11, 2006, Cui Yingjie's business was stoppedCui Yingjie had a dispute with people who stopped his businessCui Yingjie left the sceneCui Yingjie went back to the sceneLi Zhiqiang was stabbed by the knife in Cui Yingjie's handLi Zhiqiang was dead after being sent to the hospitalOn August 12, 2006, Cui Yingjie was arrested by the Public Security Department.
After examining all the evidence (including trial record) used in the court verdict, the author arranged the acts of the main character – Cui Yingjie in the time order to produce a record format similar to annals. From the clues, it is not difficult to find almost all of Cui Yingjie's acts related to the case, the death of Li Zhiqiang, and every record in the case can be directly obtained from the evidence that was examined and finally adopted by the court without reasoning and explanation. However, we are unable to find any information that can make conviction and evaluation on the defendant's acts from the clue. Whether it is the problem of fact itself or it is the way of writing that caused the problem?
Let us make a comparison with classical historical texts of annals. Hayden White once used German historical document Saint Gall Annals as example. The document is fairly consistent with the typical form of annals. Take the entries that had been recorded since A. D. 709 for example.
709. Hard winter. Duke Gottfried died.
710. Hard year and deficient in crops.
712. Flood everywhere.
714. Pippin, mayor of the palace, died.
718. Charles devastated the Saxon with great destruction.
720. Charles fought against the Saxons.
721. Theudo drove the Saracens out of Aquitaine.
722. Great crops.
725. Saracens came for the first time.
(The author wants to remind the readers that although Hayden White had analyzed annals and narrative in Narrativity in the Representation of Reality, the author's selection of the record is not a repetition but for the keynote of the study. White's analysis focused on how to write history, but the author gives priority to the content that can conclude theories related to legal practice.)
There is nothing wrong when giving a look at the excerpted list. It is proper to use such a simple way to record the world where we live in. Clearly, it is not a story format that the daily language familiar with, because it has no beginning, no plot, and no end. The number of year in the left column can be extended indefinitely forward or backward as long as the annals calendar has not changed. The events in the right column are not only monotonous but are also recorded in an almost indifferent tone by the anonymous recorder. Therefore, the events seem to have nothing to do with the recorder, readers, or any other people.
However, the events actually provided some information according to White. When readers faced the impassive record, they would be placed “in a culture hovering on the brink of dissolution, a society of radical scarcity, a world of human groups threatened by death, devastation, flood, and famine.” It may be somewhat exaggerated, but we did see that the content was full of wars, disasters, or death. Then come the problems that readers start to raise queries about the record, reliability, significance, and purpose of the events happened in the past out of curiosity. Readers would find later that the queries play a key role in the trial of the case.
According to the people's daily experience, it is impossible that only few things happened in life, details lie in every nook of our lives. Then, why the annals only recorded only one thing in a whole year? Why there are lots of blank spaces in the annals? It is impossible that nothing had happened in the blank years. According to our common sense, the history of a tribe would never be blank as long as its people kept producing offspring. Moreover, this kind of questions can go a step further: What are the standards that the recorder followed when selecting the events that he or she believed should be written in history? White believed that “All of the events are extreme, and the implicit criterion for selecting them for remembrance is their liminal nature. Basic needs – food, security from external enemies, political and military leadership, and the threat of their not being provided are the subjects of concern; however, the connection between basic needs and the conditions for their possible satisfaction is not explicitly commented on.” However, the author thinks that it is only a conjecture because the recorder did not pay attention to annual agriculture and missed many important wars in the period. Since the series of fragmented events may be random, it remains unclear that whether “intentional” historical record exists.
Continuity and the standards of record are followed by purpose – what is the purpose of writing such annals? The intentional standard cannot be determined without a certain purpose. However, it is frustrating that this point still remains unclear. History recorders are always claiming to comply with a supreme purpose of leaving descendants a real document about what happened in the past with emphasis on comprehensiveness and reality. Yet, they are consciously or unconsciously limited to smaller or more specific purposes, such as a particular time, nation, culture, and regimen.
In the above annals, we cannot find any concept concerning the country at all. Phrases such as “Duke Gottfried” and the “subordinate with power” suggest that there was at least some certain power structure. Moreover, the several fights against the Saxons and the Saracens suggest the national position that the recorder might hold. However, what are the relations between the departed duke and Pippin, Charlie, and Theodore who fought against invaders? Do they belong to the same country or the same regimen? What is the nation that perennially had conflicts with the Saxons and the Saracens? The Saracens who were expelled from Aquitaine first came to here, and where is “here”? What geographical relation does the place have with the nation represented by the recorder? What role did the characters and the events recorded in the annals play in the destiny of the nation? Questions can go on endlessly.
If readers know something about the history of medieval Europe, they can make a guess based on the broken record that the recorder might write the annals from the standpoint of Frankish Kingdom. “Pippin, the subordinate with power,” should be the famous Mayor of the Palace of Merovingian Dynasty in Herstal. Moreover, “Charlie” was the illegitimate son of Pippin – Charlie Matt, who took over the Mayor of the Palace in A.D. 715. He was the kingmaker of Clovis IV who was really a puppet of the Mayor of the Palace. At that time, Frank was internally divided into three small states with frequent wars. The north was invaded by the Saxons while the south was oppressed by the Arabs. From A.D. 715 to A.D. 718, Charlie gave a counterattack against the Saxons and the Saracens who attacked from the east bank of the Rhine. He conquered the Saxons and forced them to bow down and pay a tribute. However, the annals missed many crucial events such as the Battle of Soissons that started the unification process of Frank in A.D. 719, Iconoclasm in A.D. 726, and the Annexation of Burgundy later, which makes people feel confused about the recorder's standpoints.
Annals, as a recording method, fail to adequate serve the people who try to find out the truth. The questions that the annals could not answer can be summarized as follows:
What are the relations between recorded events?How to present the integrity and continuity of the sequence of the events?As an entirety, what central theme does the recorded content describe?As an entirety, what meaning (experience, reasons, and moral judgment) does the recorded content embrace?
Readers will find out later that the emergence of narrative is to solve the above questions.
The crux of failed texts
Case clues in the way of annals
The above analysis can be consistently applied to the clue list of Cui Yingjie Case. What we see are independent lines of characters and acts.
As to the relevance, the left and right columns have an obvious correspondence in time, but the lines up and down have no relation except the sequence of time. Especially, in the key part of the case from line four to line seven, what is the relation between Cui Yingjie's dispute with the people who stopped his business and his act of leaving the scene? Was it because Cui Yingjie failed to get his property back and gave up or he was driven away by the stronger officers? What is the connection between Cui Yingjie's acts of leaving and returning back? Whether it was something happened that forced the defendant to go back? Was it the victim or other irrelevant reasons? Any reader would feel an obvious fracture between Cui Yingjie's back and the death of Li Zhiqiang. Whether Cui Yingjie's back has direct association with his act of injuring people to death? Are there any events that have been omitted between the two acts? What is the exact circumstance when Li Zhiqiang was stabbed by Cui Yingjie's knife?
As to the integrity, records similar to annals have neither beginning nor ending. From the perspective of recording events, every entry could be a completely corresponding record of “time–event.” However, when they were combined together, none of them could be regarded as a standard measurement for integrity. It would not bring much influence if they start, end, or break at any time. In the aspect of story, however, there is no recognizable story. Although characters appeared, there is neither discernible plot nor ending that concluded whether characters and their acts had achieved a common effect in the text. Certainly, the integrity of the story is no longer a problem.
As, to the meaning, it should be noted that different from historical record activities such as Saint Gall Annals, the meaning of the text has been clearly defined in the context of justice, which must be finished by speakers involved. This is a kind of legal meaning, and recorded texts related to facts need to first cater to the perspective that legal order adopts when observing historical facts. For example, the text may pay no attention to Cui Yingjie's financial situation like income, but it has to show Cui Yingjie's subjective attitude when he had dispute with others and caused someone's death. Meanwhile, it should also accommodate the evaluation system adopted by the legal order towards historical facts, i.e., the text should enable its readers to figure out that what type of legal review should be made at the judicial level. Furthermore, it should demonstrate what relationship does it have with the rights and obligations in current law or the content concerning convictions. Moreover, it should enable its readers to make a clear judgment based on the texts and decide on which side could win or lose and whether the defendant is guilty or not. This list of clues certainly failed to finish the above tasks. Thus, it is safe to consider them as pointless sentences in judicial context.
The influence that subjective requirement has on the formation of narrative
We can make the conclusion here that it is the features of the activities of legal practice that decides the unavoidable manifestation of narrative texts. If we go into the features seriously, we would find that although the case facts and historical facts claim to be objective and real, their deep motivations of telling stories are subjective:
First of all, the texts related to the facts must be “meaningful.” From a broader perspective, this is actually people's inner desire of recognizing, understanding, and mastering the world and the social environment they are living in. It is also an aspirated nature to ensure a safe life through the establishment of (cognitive, intellectual, and actal) orders. Therefore, faced with the large amount of existing nonnarrative representations of things that had happened, people will instinctively believe that they are not perfect and still need to be finished. With regard to history, “And the official wisdom has it that however objective a historian might be in his reporting of events, however judicious he has been in his assessment of evidence, however punctilious he has been in his dating of res gestae, his account remains something less than a proper history if he has failed to give to reality the form of a story.” As to the justice, people would be more eager and strict to require a story format of facts to answer all of the queries against the characters and plots, to satisfy their emotional desires for truth and justice, and to meet their requirements for a stable life.
The next point (which also needs more explanations) is that after reading the nameless annals and the list of clues in Cui Yingjie Case, readers would realize that both of them lack clear theme. Although individual entries are clear, the combination of all of them fails to express a theme. Different from the cognitive desire reflected from the requirement that a text must have its meaning, people's strong desire (what meanings and lessons that you expected me to get when you tell me a story) for theme is more likely the result of their culture education. The theme of a story, though objective on the surface, is an issue with strong political and moral overtones.
In his introduction to his Lectures on the Philosophy of History, Hegel states:
In our language, the term History unites the objective with the subjective side and denotes quite as much the historia rerum gestarutn, as the res gestae themselves; on the other hand, it comprehends not less what has happened, then the narration of what has happened. This union of the two meanings we must regard as of a higher order than mere outward accident; we must suppose historical narrations to have appeared contemporaneously with historical deeds and events. It is an internal vital principle common to both that produces them synchronously. Family memorials and patriarchal traditions have an interest confined to the family and the clan. The uniform course of events which such a condition implies is no subject of serious remembrance; though distinct transactions or turns of fortune may rouse Mnemosyne to form conceptions of them – in the same way, as love and the religious emotions provoke imagination to give shape to a previously formless impulse. However, it is only the state which first presents subject–matter that is not only adapted to the prose of History but involves the production of such history in the very progress of its own being.
Hegel goes on to distinguish between the kind of “profound sentiments,” such as “love” and “religious intuition and its conceptions,” and “that outward existence of a political constitution which is enshrined in. rational laws and customs.” The latter, he says, “s an imperfect Present; and cannot be thoroughly understood without knowledge of the past.” This is why, he concludes, there are periods that, although filled with “revolutions, nomadic wanderings, and the strangest mutations,” are destitute of any “objective history.” Moreover, their destitution of an objective history is a function of the fact that they could produce “no subjective history, no annals.”
We need not suppose, he remarks, “that the records of such periods have accidentally perished; rather, because they were not possible, do we find them wanting.” Moreover, he insists that “only in a State cognizant of Laws, can distinct transactions take place, accompanied by such a clear consciousness of them as supplies the ability and suggests the necessity of an enduring record.” When, in short, it is a matter of providing a narrative of real events, we must suppose that a subject of the sort that would provide the impulse to record its activities must exist.
Although the author has always disagreed with Hegel on his view of philosophy and his imaginations of the spiritual immanence of national states and the existence of nation and its consciousness, the author holds the opinion that the above paragraph penetratingly pointed out the key points: country, nation, and clan (or other group titles that can be used to describe the cohesive affinity in an excursive group of people). Concept is a prerequisite for narrative history. State or other group titles are the subjects of the narrative. Once claimed that a certain narrative text was the history of a country or a nation, the writer must take the country's or the nation's stand to select events that were closely bound up with the country's or the nation's fate as well as the events that can show the origin, growth, prosperity, decline, collapse, and extinction in the anthropomorphic life process of the country or the nation. Readers who have been trained are quite familiar with this kind of thinking mode. When we fail to take the country or the nation's stance, we would feel confused and unsatisfied with the historical records presented for us.
As the theme of narrative and the stand of narrator, group titles such as country, nation, tribe, and family, along with their systems, law, “clear and conscious acts” have already borne defined political nature, then what about its morality? According to Hegel, “a nation is moral, kind, and robust when it is devoted to realizing its will and when it protects itself from the external violence in the process of objectification.”
It is not important whether Hegel's opinion is true or false. What comes first is that almost all the generations of history writers have firmly believed a similar doctrine. If a historical text has clear theme, the image of political community (which country, nation or group and what kind of fate will the history facts talk about) is supposed to be obvious (at least, it will not be as confusing as the annals mentioned above). During the writing, whether the author basically agrees with the attitude toward the political community (such as the national history composed by historians in different countries), or disagrees (such as the American writer of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William L. Shirer who is definitely an anti-Nazi), or remains distant neutral apparently (such as Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire finished by Edward Gibbon about 2000 years after the collapse of Ancient Rome), all of them convey the messages in an obvious or an underlying way: How should the political community of people survive and develop? How should a country or a nation organize or take actions so as to become stronger? What situation or what choice would lead to the end of a country or a nation? Moreover, this is the existence of social system and the concept that people cannot realize their meanings of living without the system. Despite its conceit, the concept is still widely accepted nowadays. As the most common language mode in people's life, “every historical narrative has as its latent or manifest purpose the desire to moralize the events of which it treats.” “Narrativity, certainly in factual storytelling and probably in fictional storytelling as well, is intimately related to, if not a function of, the impulse to moralize reality.”
In comparison, case facts are supposed to have more clear value standpoints than common historical facts. Different from historical facts where writers can claim to simply record history and do not have to be responsible for what readers conclude from his record, the case facts must follow a judgment of being true or false, lenient or punished. The facts, together with the judgment, will be present to the public, and people can take part in the evaluation system. At the same time, the narrative in judicial practice, with simpler and more straightforward political nature and morality, openly gives official propaganda to implement an act even an ideological criterion that are required to be generally followed:
Where there is ambiguity or ambivalence regarding the status of the legal system, which is the form in which the subject encounters most immediately the social system in which he is enjoined to achieve a full humanity, the ground on which any closure of a story one might wish to tell about a past, whether it be a public or a private past, is lacking.
The description of case facts in the court has to aim at the system evaluation and moral criterion, or it will be regarded as null narrative.
The author would like to kindly remind readers again that although the narrative theme bears high morality, it has a tricky pattern of manifestation. On the face of it, the narrator would first tell a story to the audience and suggest that everything he/she said is an objective description of the case. Then, the narrator would tell people what lessons they should draw from the story. It seems that the facts and lessons are independent with each other, but actually, the latter has already infiltrated into the former. In other words, the latter decides what the former will be. Moreover, this point will be further analyzed in the later part of the study.
The Trial Requires What Type of Text?
Fragmented case information
The previous section has summarized the features of failed record of facts: the linkage between recorded events is hardly recognizable; the combination of events fails to show the familiar integrity, recognizable theme, and meaning. These features are conspicuous in the annals of clues in Cui Yingjie Case. What about the other texts (the sequence of events of the case) that the author has present?
Through careful comparison with the evidence materials in the court verdict, we can conjecture the events as follows:
Cui Yingjie was a farmer who worked town, living in a plight as of 4 months of salary arrearsCui Yingjie borrowed money to buy tools such as tricycle and sold barbecued sausages by the street side of Zhongguancun Science Park without business licenseAt about 5 p.m. on August 11, 2006, City Administration Group officers came to Cui Yingjie's stall to investigate and penalize vendors without business license.The first group of officers did not wear uniforms or present any written documents or certificates, even without oral explanationsCui Yingjie had a dispute with the officers for his tricycle with a knife in his handThe tricycle was confiscated, and Cui Yingjie left the scene and was lost from Zhao who set up street stall with himCui Yingjie went back to the scene and rushed into the crowd with a knife in his handThe vice leader of the City Administration Group was stabbed by Cui Yingjie in the neck and was dead after being sent to the hospital.
The eight events are directly got from the evidence the court verdict present. “Directly got” means that the information was in the simplest language without any thinking or linguistic processes such as reasoning, speculation, explanation, and imagination.
If we firmly uphold the traditional concept of litigation, we will find that the eight events above should be the “case facts” required by justice. They are also derived from the proved and adopted evidence that has gone through the examination of witness and trial. Theoretically, we can call the end of the trial of facts and work out a judicial conclusion based on the case facts. However, is this really the case?
Obviously, people who have legal knowledge would feel confused after reading the above events. It is impossible for them to get any information from the narration to guide them to make judgment. What are the reasons behind?
From chronicle to narrative history
To make a foreshadowing of the narrative analysis of Cui Yingjie Case, it is necessary to take some historical texts as examples to make a comparison with the crucial differences between the simple list of events and the complete factual narrative.
To address the question, we need to first make a comparison between the list of core events and the previous list of case clues. If the list of clues can correspond to a narrative format like annals in history, the list of events can correspond to the narrative format like chronicle. Compared with annals, chronicle is more widely known and embraces more comprehensive details, plots, and narrations, but it also lacks something when compared with the “historical” texts that people such as most and frequently read (In some circumstances, the “chronicle” in Chinese and English IS widely used to describe all of the obvious methods of recording history in time order. In that case, annals or timeline is also seen as one of the chronicles. However, the study makes a distinction between chronicle and annals. Moreover, it should be noted that there is no sharp line between the two. As all of the classification made by human being, the ambiguous dividing line is inevitable. We can only make a general convention, because it is impossible to naturally classify what is annals and what is chronicle based on simplicity and complexity).
The author will skip issues such as writers, politics, law, philosophy, and culture that have been widely discussed in the fields of literature, history, and philosophy, trying to regard the above annals as a historical document and observe its narrative issues from the perspective of readers without any academic background and stereotype. Compared with Saint Gall Annals, the annals above are more interesting, because it at least bears a theme – the chronicle events of Lu State in the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (actually, many states were involved in the recorded events, and some people believe that historiographers at that time would exchange information on official record of events), which is also a theme with clear and typical political position. Every entry is clear based on the year unite of reign of the dukes. With seasons as child entries, the writer recorded the events that he or she thought necessary. Since it is the history of Lu State, some important events were recorded, such as food production, natural disasters, special weathers, aspect astrology, diplomacy, wars, duke families, and governments in states.
Hayden White made a more profound comment on the drawbacks of chronicle: “the chronicle, like the annals but unlike the history, does not so much conclude as simply terminate; typically, it lacks closure that summing up of the 'meaning' of the chain of events with which it deals that we normally expect from the well-made story. The chronicle typically promises closure but does not provide it.” Probably, as a complete text, The Spring and Autumn Annals is expected to convey some reflective thoughts and principles according to its original writer and writers who later recompiled the text. However, they did not use understandable language or make any explanation to readers. The story lost its meaning because the ending that expressed thoughts and principles had been missed. Moreover, this made the recorded content scattered and pointless, making the chronicle unable to meet people's curiosity about the “truth.”
Since The Spring and Autumn Annals provided oversimplified and confusing record on history, many descendants have written biography for it to interpret the meanings to readers. In the chronicle, Zuo Commentary bears more specialty than Gongyang Commentary and Guliang Commentary, because it narrated another history with corresponding time and detailed content and put it under the original text as annotation, rather than adopting the well-known way of discussion. The annotation served to give supplementary details to events that had not been recorded in the original text. In The Spring and Autumn Annals, the record of the Second Year of Duke Huan of Lu was less than 100 words (without any punctuation), but Zuo Commentary added about 1000 words for the entries in the year, including some events that had never appeared in the original text (If we regard Zuo Commentary as historical document, we would face the problem that whether it belongs to chronicle or narrative history. From single passage, its words meet the basic definition of narrative history. But on the whole, it records intermittently by year. The author will take single passage as sample and will regard it as narrative history when comparing it with typical chronicle text).
In The Spring and Autumn Annals, the Prime Minister of Song State, Hua Fudu, killed the senior official and the Duke of Song State. The related diplomatic incidents provoked by the above events were recorded in Zuo Commentary as follows:
(THE FIRST YEAR OF DUKE HUAN'S REIGN) Hua Fudu of Song happened to see the wife of Kong Fu on the way. He gazed at her as she approached and followed her with his eyes when she had passed, saying, “How handsome and beautiful!”
In the Duke's 2nd year, in Spring, Hua Fudu attacked the Kong family, killed Kong Fu, and carried off his wife. The duke was angry, and Hua Fudu, in fear, proceeded also to murder him.
Man with noble character believed that Hua Fudu committed such unforgivable crime because he had no respect for his Duke. Therefore, The Spring and Autumn Annals wrote that he committed regicide. The Duke Huan of Lu, the Marquis Xi of Qi, the Marquis Huan of Chen, and the Earl Zhuang of Zheng met in Ji to discuss how to put down the civil strife in Song State. Since Duke Huan was bribed, he agreed Hua Fudu to set up his own regimen.
During the 10 years of Duke Shang's rule in Song, he had fought 11 battles so that the people were not able to endure the constant summonses to the field. Kong Fu Jia was the minister of War, and Hua Fudu was the premier of the State. Taking advantage of the dissatisfaction of the people, Hua first set on foot a report that the constant fighting was owing to the minister of War, and then, after killing Kong Fu, he murdered Duke Shang. Immediately after that, he called duke Zhuang from Zheng and raised him to the dukedom; to please Zheng, bribing also the Duke Huan of Lu with the great tripod of Gao. The Marquis of Qi, the Marquis of Chen, and the Earl of Zheng all received bribe, and so, Hua Fudu acted as Chief Minister to the Duke of Sung.
In April, Duke Huan of Qi took the tripod from Song State and put it in the Imperial Ancestral Temple. This act of the duke was not proper, and Zang Aibo remonstrated with him, saying, “He who is a ruler of men makes it his object to illustrate his virtue, and to repress in other what is wrong, that he may shed an enlightening influence on his officers. He is still afraid lest in any way he should fail to accomplish these things, and moreover, he seeks to display excellent virtue for the benefit of his posterity. Thus, the roof of the Imperial Ancestral Temple should be thatched, the chariot for worship should be bedded by mat made by cattail, gravy should have no spices, main food should have no rice that has been husked for twice, all of which are to show thriftiness. Ceremony robe, hat, knees-cover, jade pendant, belt, dress, puttee, shoes, hair clasp, the rope of the jade on earlobes, the rope of hat, and the cloth of hat have their own rules to show caste system. Jade mat, scarves, sheath, ornaments on the sheath, leather belt, ornaments on the belt, ribbon, and horse collar have their own hierarchies to show the number that each class has set up. Drawing dragons and fire and embroidering white and cyan square pattern and white and black square patch are used to express decorations. Five hues are used to picture different images to express colors. Tin bells, chariot bells, Heng bells, and bells on the flags are used to express sounds. Flags with sun, moon, and stars are used to show brightness. The code of conduct should be thrifty and systematized with a certain amount of increase and decrease. Use decoration and colors to record it. Use sounds and brightness to promote it so as to convey messages to all officials. Therefore, all officials would be alert and afraid and dare not break the rule. However, you abandon morality but worship evil, and put the bribe in the Imperial Ancestral Temple. If you openly show the officials, they would follow the same act. Then who should be punished? The collapse of a state can be resulted from the evil of officials. The misconduct of officials is caused by preference and open corruption. The tripod of Gao State in the Imperial Ancestral Temple obviously shows corruption. And what can be worse? King Wu of Zhou beat Shang Dynasty and took the Nine tripods (九鼎) to Luoyi. At that time, people thought that he was improper because he apparently put the bribe in the Imperial Ancestral Temple. What should be done?” However, the Duke Huan of Qi refused to adopt his suggestion. After hearing the matter, an official of Zhou Dynasty said, “the descendants of Zang Sunda may enjoy their high position and great wealth for a very long time because he does not forget to dissuade his misconducted duke.”
As to the civil strife in Song State, The Spring and Autumn Annals only gave simple description that Hua Fudu killed his duke and Kong Fu. While in Zuo Commentary, Hua Fudu ran into Kong Fu's beautiful wife, and then, he killed Kong Fu and looted his wife, which incurred his duke's displeasure. Hence, the whole event turned into Hua Fudu coveted Kong Fu's wife and had some political disagreements with Kong Fu, so he decided to kill Kong Fu. However, he was afraid that his duke got angry, so he committed regicide. And this story has one of the important plot structures in typical narrative: The beginning of a story. The beginning here is not referred to the natural start of words, but an “initial pattern that is decisive to the condition for unfolding the story.”
Hua Fudu's act in the chronicle seemed to be unprovoked. His act only stayed at a certain point of time with arbitrariness. His act was not resulting from any events beforehand. Moreover, the same are to later events that Duke Huan of Qi and other noblemen put down the civil strife or Duke Huan of Qi took that the tripod of Gao State has any connection with Hua Fudu's act. If it has, what are the connections among events? On the contrary, in narrative history, everything is clear and in order:
Trivial cause: Being covetous of beauty.
Results: Murdering, looting other people's wife, committing regicide which resulted in turbulence in state and a series of changes in diplomacy.
Primary causes: (1) After Duke Shang of Song took the throne, Song State has suffered from perennial strife. The Minister Hua Fudu was covetous of the wife of Kong Fu, so he charged Kong Fu for provoking strife. Hua Fudu killed Kong Fu and looted his wife, but he was afraid of being punished by his duke. Therefore, he committed regicide, bringing about more disarrays in politics. (2) Later, dukes of many states such as Lu, Qi, Chen, and Zheng were bribed by Hua Fudu.
Results: Duke Huan of Lu formed alliance with dukes of Qi, Chen, and Zheng, and the status of Hua Family in Song State was admitted. Duke Zhuag of Zheng, who was recalled from Zheng State, had been actually a puppet duke of Hua Family. A new political frame was formed where Song State got closer to Zheng State and positively won over other states, such as Lu, Qi, and Chen.
Moreover, we can also find another “ultimate pattern that is different from the initial one and includes the results of the story.” Other events are placed between the beginning and the ending of the story to form the plots, i.e. the progress and the evolution from the beginning to the ending. “And this kind of argument means that every event in the story is confined within a generally speculative circumstance from which the events obtain their meaning. In other words, the historical meanings of events consist in their origins and the results derived from the origins.”
Apparently, the beginning of the initial pattern is a functional rhetoric structure, which serves to inform readers in narrative that it was the things happened that caused the following series of plots and actions. If the things could be avoided, the story would be no longer existed. The rhetoric function of the ending of the ultimate pattern bears obvious political features that the things happened together with the following actions finally led to a certain fate. If different choices took place at some points in the process, there would be another abruptly different fate and ending. If people could bear the story in mind, they could weigh the advantages and disadvantages and make their own judgment when faced with similar circumstances.
In other words, the rhetoric structure of narration which is from the beginning to the end implies a concept of “causality” for readers and imbues them a philosophical or political mode of thinking that world, history, social condition, as well as people's life are not random and disordered. The reason why they present the way they are is that they are driven by some certain power. Good narrative texts are able to reveal such power, making people understand and grasp the world, and human being present by the stories.
In this way, three of the four questions concluded in the second section of paper have been solved by narrative history:
The relevance between events: Recorded events are closely connected with each other by a causality (part of it is imaginary), and the next event is triggered by the last oneThe integrity of the story: According to Hershel, with initial and ultimate pattern, each recorded event was put on their own position in a reasoning chain to finish the evolution from initial pattern to ultimate pattern together so as to form an entiretyThe theme of the story: As mentioned before, the general theme of chronicle was about the “history of Lu State.” At this stage, the theme of narrative history can be concluded as the “influence of the regicide on Lu State and geopolitics.”
And the fourth question is the meaning or the comment on the story. What comment does the narrator give on plots and characters? What meaning does the narrator convey to the readers? And this content is usually demonstrated in two ways in narrative process: Being hidden in the plots or being positively described to the audience by the narrator. The latter is generally seen as less mature works in the field of literature, such as crude children' literature and folk fables. In this kind of stories, structure of “this story tells us...” is followed after the fate of the characters to advise people to learn from the characters in the story or warn people of not following the step of the characters in the story. As to the story with hidden comment, it does not have obviously didactic content but leave the mission to readers and audience who are supposed to find out the meaning from the story by themselves. However, we need to be cautious that some narrators would claim that there is no comment on the story, and what they are doing is just to record or narrate. But the author thinks this is a deception because purposeless language cannot construct narrative. And the purpose is nothing but the desire that the narrator tried to exert influence on the audience, so it can only be successful or failed.
In the story of Zuo Commentary, the second year of Duke Huan of Lu, the comment that the narrator tried to express is quite obvious, but it is technically processed and conveyed by one of the characters. Zang Aibo gave a long speech about cloth, ornamentation, tonality, and hierarchy to point out that Hua Fudu's case was a malicious crime out of moral order. However, Duke Huan of Qi not only accepted bribes and acquiesced Hua Fudu's act but also displayed the tripod in the Imperial Ancestral Temple. What officials and people would do after seeing all of this? From the political perspective in narrative history, Zang Aibo's words are exactly standard Confucian materials of politics and ethics.
Completed case facts: How do different versions remedy fractures in information
The fractures in case events
With discussion over chronicle to narrative history, we can give answer to the question proposed in the first part of this section: Why do people still feel confused about what judgment should be given even though the eight events related to the case are displayed clearly? And the reason is that the eight events in time order are like the unsatisfying chronicle. Although every entry is clear, irrefutable, and better than the annals, it still cannot meet people's requirement for facts and truth.
Irreparable fractures and ambiguity can still be found among events. For example, as to the event 6 and event 7 where Cui Yingjie left the scene and came back, readers would doubt what are the relations between the two events? Although they are connected with each other, they are apparently incoherent and have blank space in time, because the defendant left the scene for a while and then came back. There is also blank space in environment, because the defendant came back for something happened or he might come up with something. We cannot find something important based on the above discussion because of curiosity. However, we can discover the key problem in the defending words of the attorney of the defendant in the court. “The second time that Cui Yingjie ran out was to find the girl who set up street stall together with him, rather than committing revenge…the second time that he came back was to get back his living tools, rather than killing Li Zhiqiang.” Moreover, this sentence suggested that the fracture between event 6 and event 7 was of great importance to the defendant, and how did narration fill in this gap would decide on the validity of the constitutive element of the crime as well as the life and death of the defendant.
Similar problems occurred between event 7 and event 8. Cui Yingjie ran into the crowd with knife in his hands, and then, he stabbed Li Zhiqiang to death. However, the series of actions are incoherent, what was the specific circumstance? Whether the defendant ran into the crowd purposelessly or to find a particular target? If he did it purposely, was the target Li Zhiqiang or someone else? What psychological state was Cui Yingjie in when he stabbed Li Zhiqiang? All of the questions are the central points of the prosecution and defense arguments in the trial.
Only Cui Yingjie himself knew the reason why he came back to the scene again after leaving. Moreover, he claimed in the court that when he found Zhao, the girl setting up stall with him was lost, he came back to search for her. His attorney actively defensed on this point. While the prosecution was reluctant if the statement was adopted by the judge because they believed the defendant returned to the scene with the purpose of revenge: “Cui Yingjie had no personal conflict with Li Zhiqiang, and he had the idea of revenge because he was punished for unlicensed business activity. So his idea of revenge was not only directly against Li Zhiqiang but against all the officers present.”
As to the specific situation of the death of Li Zhiqiang, the record present in the court could not provide details because there were blocked by obstacles. Therefore, the recall of the litigant and witnesses was the only way to restore the scene, but most of them did not notice it. According to Cui Yingjie, it was chaotic, and he was eager to escape, so he gave a purposeless cut randomly behind him. According to the officer Di Yumei, who claimed to see the process, Cui Yingjie stabbed Li Zhiqiang intentionally and “swung his hand, and the blade was broken.” However, another officer Cui Gonghai claimed that the defendant gripped the dagger reversed and gave an upward stab. Although this case has insufficient evidence at this point, objective act, at least its appearance, can be exhaustively reflected through evidence. The problems are the subjective factors behind the objective acts. Unfortunately, people cannot directly understand other psychological activities. They can only depend on indirect ways, such as deduction and imagination based on objective acts.
The reason why fractures in chronicles would raise contentions is that they are key factors directly influenced the judgment. Moreover, the reason why contentions could happen and there could be possibilities for contentions is that the evidence failed to provide a clear answer to the court (or anyone else).
At the same time, there has already been a predetermined requirement in the context of law for how to remedy such fractures. Moreover, this has given the case facts less choice but more rhetoric than common historical texts. In the case facts, mode of thinking, cognition, and language is prescribed. For history, if we free some doctrines that were not strict before, we can totally admit that although the annals or chronicle are relatively unsatisfying, they can still be seen as truth in some ways, though they are not observed or present through the language or mode of thinking that people are familiar with. However, in the field of law, especially in justice, the rhetoric format of truth is prescribed. If required details are missed, the whole text would be considered as unclear and doubtful, especially in criminal cases.
Established factual narrative
In any case, it is inevitable that case facts with high-level historical narrative will occur in various written document and oral statement present to the court and the public in the judicial process. In Cui Yingjie Case, there are at least four narrative texts of case facts. See the example at the beginning of the first section in this paper.
In the afternoon on August 11, 2006, vendor Cui Yingjing was selling barbecued sausages without license by the street of the northwest corner of Kemao Building in Zhongguancun Science Park of Haidian District, Beijing. The law enforcement officers of City Administration Group of Haidian District of Beijing Municipal Bureau of City Administration and Law Enforcement punished Cui Yingjie for unlicensed business activity and confiscated his tools including tricycle and stove. Cui Yingjie violently impeded law enforcement in the process of confiscation and held a knife to threaten the officers. After the confiscation, Cui Yingjie held grudge against the officer and intended to revenge, so he thrust the leaving officers with his knife and gave a fierce stab on Li Zhiqiang's vital part between the neck and the collarbone. The stab injured the victim's right brachiocephalic vein and the right upper lobe and caused Li's death.
The above versions give concise information and actually fill the gaps between events in chronicle and replenish the information that the evidence failed to show.
The theme of narrative: Since the judicial prosecution in Cui Yingjie Case is the narrator, the story has two themes under special context. One is obvious while the other is latent. The obvious theme described a story where a scoundrel publicly committed a crime and violated the law and social order. The keywords of this text that remind the readers all the time are country, law, order, justice, and security. With such guiding theme, all the events in chronicle can be correspondingly explained and organized. While as to the latent theme in the context of law, evil people will surely be punished, the disrupted order will be restored and the offended will of the nation and people will be pacifiedThe integrity of narrative: The reason why such criminal case would take place is that Cui Yingjie defied law and sought personal interest. He made money by carrying out illegal unlicensed business activities, and what he sold was prepared food that is in great need of safety supervision and standardized management. When defendant's illegal act was stopped, his nature of evil and defiance against the law became aggravated. Thus, he threatened the officers by holding a knife and killed one of them for revenge. The ultimate pattern (ending) of narrative, on the surface, was resulted from a vicious case in the form of the death of a law enforcement officer; while as to its deep meaning, the real ending is hidden. The case was so vicious that everyone could imagine that if the country or the society still embraced justice, the most satisfying ending was to give severe punishment for the criminal. In other words, the real ultimate pattern of the story was given to the judge and readers who spontaneously showed itThe connection between events: At this point, events in the chronicle of the case are no longer occasional or respectively independent. On the contrary, they are closely connected with each other and perfectly developed through definite causality and the mode that “specific act is guided by concrete thoughts.” Finally, they will come to the ending that reveals the entire meaning of the story. (It is easy to find that the narrative text we are talking about did not adopt all the events in the chronicle. The missing events actually include important rhetoric purpose which will be given specific discussion in the future).
Since Cui Yingjie carried out illegal business activity, he was and should be stopped and even be punished by law enforcement officers (city administration officers). Cui Yingjie threatened the officers by holding a knife because of the punishment and his nature of evil and lawlessness. Cui Yingjie ran into the officers with a knife in his hand and killed Li Zhiqiang because of the confiscation of his living tools and his hatred and the idea of revenge on the officers. Then, readers can reasonably estimate that Cui Yingjie would be arrested, prosecuted, and appeared in the court. What is more, a severe sentence will befall him. In this case, the narrative related to the case facts is almost flawless without any fracture in chronicle. As to the event 7, there is nothing doubtful that Cui Yingjie rushed into the crowd to kill someone for revenge (and event 6 was unintentionally deleted in this narrative text). Meanwhile, there is also nothing unclear in event 8. The motivation of revenge murder has decided the subjective aspects of the elements in the crime. The defendant had been aware that he would cause someone's death, but he still positively carried out the crime. Since the subjective factors of the defendant are quite clear, we do not have to delve into the details of his acts, even if no one had witnessed the reality.
Now, let us take a look at the version four:
Born in a small village of Pingyang Town, Fuping County, Baoding City, Hebei Province, Cui Yingjie was a poor farmer and earned his living by working as a temporary security guard in an entertainment club in Kemao Building in Zhongguancun Science Park, Beijing. Since April 2006, the employer had been behind in payment for 4 months. Be cornered by poverty, Cui Yingjie borrowed money from his friends to buy tools including tricycle and stove to make a living by selling barbecued sausages on the street. In the afternoon on August 11, 2006, the law enforcement officers of City Administration Group of Haidian District punished Cui Yingjie for unlicensed business activity and confiscated his tools. At that time, the officers neither wore uniforms nor presented any identity document. What's worse, they failed to produce any official documents including the written decision of administrative penalty. There even was not any oral explanation. Cui Yingjie mistakenly thought he was robbed or extorted. Failed to get his tricycle back by imploration, he left the scene and went back to find the girl Zhao who sold sausages with him. Then, he saw his tricycle being loaded onto the truck. When Cui Yingjie made a final try to get his property back, he carelessly stabbed the vice leader of the City Administration Group Li Zhiqiang by the knife in his hand. The victim was dead after being sent to the hospital.
Likewise, in the above text, the events in the chronicle were formed into a story like narrative history with sophisticated rhetoric skill. However, the version gave an abruptly different story. First, the theme was changed. In the first version, a vicious criminal killed a law enforcement officer. While in version four, Cui Yingjie was a poor worker who was bullied and humiliated by the outrageous city administration group. When the defendant ran to his tricycle to try to protect his own property, he stabbed (maybe by accident or because of wrong judgment) Li Zhiqiang in chaos by the knife for cutting sausages in his hands, leading to the death of Li Zhiqiang. In the context of justice, the latent theme of this version is that the accident was not a vicious criminal case but a tragic unforeseeable event or circumstance. There was no evil scoundrel who committed intentional homicide but a poor farmer who was driven to desperation and unintentionally injured someone. Therefore, what the court needs to take into consideration is that how to deal with such contradiction in the complicated and unbalanced social relations so as to avoid the great shocks caused by the intensification of the persistent social problems.
Due to the changes in theme, the same chronicle would be interpreted and organized in totally different ways. Under this theme, the unlicensed business activity in event 2 is no longer a lawless act but a helpless decision forced by life according to event 1. As for the event 5 that Cui Yingjie had dispute with the officers, the first version regarded it as a violent confrontation against laws and threatening law enforcement officers by holding a knife. While in version four, his dispute was interpreted as a misunderstanding caused by improper law enforcement. Moreover the fracture between the event 6 and event 7 is refilled as follows: Failed to get his property back, Cui Yingjie actually gave up and planned to leave the scene. He went back to find the girl who setting up stalls with him. When he saw his tricycle was taken away by the officers, he attempted again to get his tricycle back so he rushed into the crowd. Due to the disordered situation, he accidentally injured someone.
Possibly, those who have the experience of judicial practice would forecast that this version would hardly be accepted by the court. However, we have to admit that it completed the same task as the first version did, i.e. it constructed a narrative story that is consistent with historical language and court language that people are familiar with when faced with the same evidence, case clues, and events of chronicle (and all of the four version in the first section of this paper have finished the same task).
The process of evolution of narration of case facts will call an end. Moreover, it is meaningless to give answer to the question proposed at the beginning of this paper: Which version of the case facts is the truth? What really confused us is that different narrative can be generated from the same information, including (nonnarrative) evidence. Moreover, in the context of justice, the differences between texts can lead to far different judicial judgments.
This article is sponsored by the Program for Young Innovative Research Team in China University of Political Science and Law, Grant Number: 18CXTD09 and the Social Science Fund of Ministry of Education, China Grant Number: 18YJAZH131.
Financial support and sponsorship
This article is sponsored by the Program for Young Innovative Research Team in China University of Political Science and Law, Grant Number: 18CXTD09 and the Social Sciences Fund of Ministry of Education, China, Grant Number: 18YJAZH131.
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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