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 Table of Contents  
CASE REPORT
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 161-176

Analysis of contested narratives in Cui Yingjie case


School of Foreign Languages, China University of Political Science and Law, Beijing, China

Date of Web Publication29-Sep-2017

Correspondence Address:
Luping Zhang
China University of Political Science and Law, Beijing
China
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jfsm.jfsm_74_16

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  Abstract 

This paper endeavors to explore how to analyze the lateral difference between factual narrative texts to the same case, as well as the narrative mechanism that caused such lateral difference. It applies its four perspectives of the story model, namely, (1) coverage, (2) coherence, (3) uniqueness, and (4) goodness of fit to the study of evidence in Cui Yingjie case. The author explores why different interpretations the prosecution and defense adopted in the trial of the case could not provide a reliable logic to illustrate the necessity of their statements. In light of the story model, this paper explains the mechanism behind the techniques of evidence presentation both prosecution and defense adopted in the trial of Cui Yingjie case.

Keywords: Evidence, fact, story model, storytelling


How to cite this article:
Zhang L. Analysis of contested narratives in Cui Yingjie case. J Forensic Sci Med 2017;3:161-76

How to cite this URL:
Zhang L. Analysis of contested narratives in Cui Yingjie case. J Forensic Sci Med [serial online] 2017 [cited 2022 Dec 8];3:161-76. Available from: https://www.jfsmonline.com/text.asp?2017/3/3/161/215814


  Distance between Evidence and Fact Top


Evidence is the primary source to obtain the case facts. However, traditional discussion on the case facts only emphasizes on evidence, and the phase of narrative construction has been ignored. This paper is dedicated to reveal that if one observes the case facts by the general theory of evidence, he/she would feel a rupture between evidence and factual texts. What is worse, this kind of contradiction would come to some ambiguous and confusing understandings in the recognition and deduction between evidence and factual texts. Thus, the author endeavors to propose a propulsive theoretical framework in the phase of narrative construction so as to offset the sense of rupture.

Since the author could not personally intervene into the criminal case and could only get the information approved to be released by existing law and regulations, all of the evidence in Cui Yingjie case came from the written judgment of first instance. However, since these evidences in the written judgment are the results of the cross-examination proceedings and have been adopted by judges of collegiate bench, they enjoy more advantages in supporting the author's opinions that evidence cannot effectively exclude the differentiation of factual texts caused by rhetoric, which can occur after evidence. While the disadvantage is that they are not firsthand evidences collected in the investigation and prosecution stage and the firsthand information known by judicial officers, the author cannot give detailed analysis on the role that the rhetoric plays in each judicial phase.

The evidence of Cui Yingjie case and its implied information

The evidence of Cui Yingjie case

Please read the physical evidence, documentary evidence, and authentication and inspection report listed in the written judgment:

  1. According to the record on forensics examination and photos provided by criminal and investigation team in Public Security Bureau of Haidian District branch in Beijing, 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 (extracted) and a red plastic handle (extracted) aside. In the office of City Administration Group of Haidian District on the underground floor in Hailong Building, there was the tricycle with a red plastic scabbard (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 District

    A cloth (has been submitted for inspection) was found in the 79th locker in the hallway of the monitoring room of the security department in Minggui Evening Club on the eighth floor of Kemao Electronic Mall in Zhongguancun Science Park, Haidian District in Beijing
  2. The conclusion in “Beijing the Public Law of Pathological Character (2006) No. 676 Autopsy Certification” issued by 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 lobe
  3. The conclusion in “Beijing the Public Law of Physical Evidence Character (2006) No. 2747 Biological Evidence Certification” issued by 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 Evening Club) were left by Li Zhiqiang
  4. The photos of tricycle, blade, and knife handle and scabbard issued in the court were confirmed by the defendant Cui Yingjie as the items and criminal tools he used
  5. Registration of criminal cases issued by the Criminal Investigation Detachment of Haidian suboffice of Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau proved that on 5:10 p.m. August 11, 2006, claim 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 who died after being sent to the hospital
  6. The process of appearance in court and the statement of work issued by the Criminal Investigation Detachment of Haidian Suboffice of Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau proved that by inquiry, Cui Yingjie had major suspicion for commit an offense. On 3 p.m. August 12, 2006, Cui Yingjie summoned his friend Zhang Lei to Jinbohan International Business Hotel 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. On 4 a.m. that day, Zhang Jianhua was arrested by the police at Jinbohan International Business Hotel in Haidian District. On 5:30 a.m., Cui Yingjie was arrested by the police at the fifth floor of the 72th Building in Wanlian Villa in Tianjing Tanggu development zone. On 4 p.m. of August 31, 2006, Niu Xuming was arrested by the police at Hengchang Technology Co. Ltd., in Zhongguancun Science Park in Haidian District, Beijing. On 9 a.m. of 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 investigation
  7. The household register issued by public security organs 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 Zhi Qiang.[1]


Each paragraph in the testimony of witness in the judgment was rhetoric of finished narrative and was processed by more than one narrator ranging from the statement recollected by witnesses in investigation phase and the file written by Public Security Bureau and Procuratorate to the rearranged and crystalized story written by the judge in the court verdict. Therefore, to avoid preconceived biases, the author would skip the first part of the testimony of witnesses, but to choose the evidence that closer to the original material, i.e., the direct testimony of witnesses in court, which is presented in the form of dialogue. In the trial of Cui Yingjie case, only one witness Zhao was summoned (the girl who sold things together with Cui Yingjie on the day of the crime):

[The defense attorney interrogated the witness]

Defense attorney: Zhao, when did you and Cui Yingjie spread out goods for sale?

Zhao: About 3 or 4 p.m.

Defense attorney: When were you surrounded by a group of people and grabbing the tricycle?

Zhao: About 4:30 p.m.

Defense attorney: What did the city administration officers do?

Zhao: When we protected our tricycle, they pulled, and I begged them to leave the tricycle for us. We were all fighting over the tricycle. When I turned around, I found the tricycle had been loaded on their car. I stayed there for 3 or 4 min. I didn't know what happened when I turned around.

Defense attorney: Did the officers show their papers when they confiscated the tricycle?

Zhao: No.

Defense attorney: Did they fill in the form of decision for administrative penalty?

Zhao: No.

Defense attorney: Did they show their notice of seizure of goods?

Zhao: No.

Defense attorney: What did Cui Yingjie say to the officers?

Zhao: He asked them to leave the car, and we would not do any business.

Defense attorney: Did you ever see Cui Yingjie stabbing one of the officers in chaos?

Zhao: No.

Defense attorney: I have read your record. How did you know those who came to you were city administration officers?

Zhao: Cui Yingjie told me.

Defense attorney: When?

Zhao: When the officers come to us.

Defense attorney: Who told you that the tricycle and the sausage were confiscated?

Zhao: I was not clear about that.

Defense attorney: Did you know how many people were chasing Cui Yingjie?

Zhao: Seven or eight.

Defense attorney: When did you see that? Before or after the tricycle was loaded on the car?

Zhao: After.[2]

Other evidence in the form of dialogue includes statements of Cui Yingjie, Zhang Lei, Niu Xuming, Zhang Jianhua, and Duan Yuli. Due to space constraints, the author only chose parts of them as intuitive understanding.

[The prosecutor interrogated the defendant Cui Yingjie]

Prosecutor: Did you know the victim in this case?

Cui Yingjie: No.

Prosecutor: Did you have contradiction with him before?

Cui Yingjie: No.

Prosecutor: Who did you have conflict with on August 11, this year and what is the reason?

Cui Yingjie: I don't know.

Prosecutor: What good did you sell?

Cui Yingjie: Sausage.

Prosecutor: Did you have any business license?

Cui Yingjie: No.

Prosecutor: Have you ever been punished for without business license?

Cui Yingjie: Yes.

Prosecutor: Who gave the punishment?

Cui Yingjie: I didn't know at that time.

Prosecutor: On August 11, when you were doing selling things without business license, who interfered with your business?

Cui Yingjie: I didn't know, just a group of people.

Prosecutor: Did someone talk to you?

Cui Yingjie: No one talked to me. They just went me straight and pulled my tricycle.

Prosecutor: What did you do?

Cui Yingjie: I thought them maybe people in community. I asked them but no one answered me. So I begged them but they insisted on confiscating my tricycle.

Prosecutor: What did you hold in your hand at that time?

Cui Yingjie: A knife. I was cutting the sausages.

Prosecutor: What action did you take?

Cui Yingjie: I scared them.

Prosecutor: What happened afterward?

Cui Yingjie: Then I left.

Prosecutor: Did those people take actions on you?

Cui Yingjie: I didn't notice.

Prosecutor: Why did you leave?

Cui Yingjie: Because more and more people were coming, and I thought it was useless to asking my tricycle back. Let them take it, and I left.

Prosecutor: Why did you back?

Cui Yingjie: I came back to find the girl.

Prosecutor: What was in your hand at that moment?

Cui Yingjie: I was holding my knife all the time.

Prosecutor: Who did you meet after you came back?

Cui Yingjie: I saw them loading my tricycle on their car.

Prosecutor: Did you see the cloth and the appearance of the victim?

Cui Yingjie: No.

Prosecutor: Why you stabbed him by knife?

Cui Yingjie: I didn't have a specific target. He was the closest and the most threatening one for me.

Prosecutor: How did he threaten you?

Cui Yingjie: He slid past me, and I didn't see clearly.

Prosecutor: How did you hold your knife?

Cui Yingjie: I hold the knife in my right hand with the blade downward.

Prosecutor: How did you stab the victim?

Cui Yingjie: I didn't see. I just scratched. I was afraid of being caught by him, so I just scratched him by knife.

Prosecutor: How did you scratch?

Cui Yingjie: I couldn't remember.

[The prosecutor interrogated the defendant Zhang Lei]

Prosecutor: What was the nature of your relationship?

Zhang Lei: We were colleagues.

Prosecutor: How did you two get along?

Zhang Lei: Not bad.

Prosecutor: You said that when you had discussion at a snack bar, you said something happened to Cui Yingjie. What was the matter?

Zhang Lei: He fought with other people.

Prosecutor: What did he tell you?

Zhang Lei: He asked me for money at the snack bar. I said I didn't have money and asked him what was wrong. He told me that he injured someone in a fight.

Prosecutor: Who was the injured?

Zhang Lei: A city administration officer.

Prosecutor: How about the injury?

Zhang Lei: I didn't know.

[The defense attorney interrogated Zhang Lei]

Defense attorney: Could you judge that Cui Yingjie had a fight with someone the day you see him?

Zhang Lei: No.

Defense attorney: So the fight and the injury were all his oral statements?

Zhang Lei: Yes.

Defense attorney: Did he say how the injury was?

Zhang Lei: No.[3]

Information displayed by the evidence

What would common people feel if they were asked to hear the case, identify the case facts, and determine whether the defendant is guilty with those unreserved evidence? Legal education in class rarely involves the study on how those facts were collected, What we learnt is more concerned on the presented facts and how to apply laws to such facts as though such “facts” are ready made. “Recurring facts in written form (in papers and homework) are normally assumed to be complete and realistic in terms of legal education in universities. Therefore, the students are only required to evaluate them, but it is a different story when it comes to practice”.[4]

As to the situation, vast majority of average reasonable people would see a mess of blood, a knife used by the defense attorney caused the death of the victim – evidence (1) and (4), a cloth worn by the defendant with the blood of the victim – evidence (3), the victim died of the sever wound on vena cava and lungs – evidence (2), and someone reported the defense attorney was the criminal – evidence (6).

In terms of the testimony and confessions in the way of question and answer, we can only get some fragmented, unfocused, and even contradictory pieces of information. Here, we would leave out discussion on whether questioners have already had a set of preconceptions about the fact before proposing interrogations. What is certain, though is that those people proposed the questions for the purposes of their own consideration, while the purpose cannot be presented to others and everything must look like “being objective,” so the sequence is vague for other people, and the respondents are in a passive position where he answered whatever he has been asked, being impossible to directly demo a complete set of narrative text.

For example, the prosecutor asked the defendant why he came back to the scene. The defendant replied that he came back to find the girl. This question seemed to attract people's attention to the motives and mental process of the defendant, while the defendant's answer changed people's thinking mode. It seemed that the dialogue had nothing to do with the intended murder case (it is not random, but has fairly subtle rhetorical confrontation). The ensuing question and answer appeared more ambivalent when the prosecutor asked the defendant what he held in hands, our thinking mode was changed again until the defendant answered that he was holding the knife that stabbed the victim all the time, did the dialogue back to the topic of intended murder.

However, there were roundabout rhetoric and displayed items, but the facts were missing. Where they were?

It could not automatically appear in front of a judge, the jury, or any nonwitness (it is still doubtful whether the witness can represent the fact for an individual's perception is always limited and even those closely involved cannot see clearly. Moreover, different people may have different perspectives and cognitions even though they were experiencing the same events. Thus, their thinking mode and memory process are just the material sources of the history of narrative text, rather than the history narrative itself). It is a process of discovery or to be more specific, a process of “creation” which does not emerge out of the void, but have its own specific pattern. Take the bottom line effect of the fact for instance; the facts cannot completely separate itself from evidence. In this case, it would not be convincing if someone claims a proposal in apparent conflict with the evidence, like Li Zhiqiang was not killed by Cui Yingjie or Cui Yingjie did not have a clash with the city administration officer. One more example is the rule about how to use law in judicial process. If some evidences were true but were purchased illegally, the court is not supposed to adopt the evidence as the standard to decide the case facts.

However, will the task be accomplished simply with evidence and norms of evidence handling? How do people see or ascertain facts from the evidence? Or in other words, how exactly does the evidence turn into facts? It is difficult to find an explanation for those questions in the legal education that people familiar with. Su held that it is a process of fuzzy psychology and mentality which cannot be explained, or may be generally called free evaluation of evidence through inner conviction.[5] In traditional legal theory, this argument may not be wrong because traditional law fails to provide researches on the process of psychological cognition.

What's worse, on the one hand, we acknowledge that it is a fuzzy process of finding out the case facts through evidence, but we are unable to explain the reasons behind. On the other hand, we claim in a high profile that there is only one single truth, and the facts need to be definite and derived from evidence, which is the fundamental basis for the justice. To find the answer, we need to first inspect the distance between evidence to facts.

Transformation from evidence to fact

First, the author would list the events are adopted by the procedure of examining witness in the court.

  1. Cui Yingjie was a farmer who worked in a city, living in a plight as of 4 months of salary arrears
  2. Cui Yingjie borrowed money to buy tools such as tricycle and spread sausages for sale by the street side of Zhongguancun Science Park without business license
  3. At about 5 p.m. of August 11, 2006, city administration group officers came to Cui Yingjie's stall to investigate and penalize peddlers without business license
  4. The first group of officers did not wear uniforms or present any written documents or certificates, even without oral explanations
  5. Cui Yingjie had a dispute with the officers for his tricycle with a knife in his hands
  6. The tricycle was confiscated, and Cui Yingjie left the scene and was lost from Zhao who set up street stall with him
  7. Cui Yingjie went back to the scene and rushed into the crowd with a knife in his hands
  8. The 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 clues of the case are chronologically listed as follows:



Please focus on the timeline before Li Zhiqiang was stabbed by Cui Yingjie:

  • Cui Yingjie had a dispute with people who stopped his business
  • Cui Yingjie left the scene
  • Cui Yingjie went back to the scene.


That is, event (5) to event (7):

(5) Cui Yingjie had a dispute about the tricycle with city administration officers with a knife in his hand.

(6) The tricycle was confiscated, and Cui Yingjie left the scene and was separated from Zhao who sold goods with him.

(7) Cui Yingjie went back to the scene, running into the crowd with a knife in his hand.

As to the event (5), two pieces of evidence which are the interrogation sessions in the court are comparatively original. One is the Zhao (the Witness)'s answer to the question of the defendant lawyer of Cui Yingjie and the other is the deposition of Cui Yingjie under the interrogation of the prosecutor:

[The defense attorney interrogated the witness].

Defense attorney: What is the time when you were surrounded by a group of people and grabbing the tricycle?

Zhao: About 4:30 p.m.

Defense attorney: What did the city administration officers do?

Zhao: When we protected our tricycle, they pulled, and I begged them to leave the tricycle for us. We were all fighting over the tricycle. When I turned around, I found the tricycle had been loaded on their car. I stayed there for 3 or 4 min. I didn't know what happened when I turned around.

[The prosecutor questioned the defendant]

Prosecutor: On August, 11, when you were doing selling things without business license, and who interfered with your business?

Cui Yingjie: I didn't know, just a group of people.

Prosecutor: Did someone talk to you?

Cui Yingjie: No one talked to me. They just went me straight and pulled my tricycle.

Prosecutor: What did you hold in your hand at that time?

Cui Yingjie: A knife. I was cutting the sausages.

Prosecutor: What action did you take?

Cui Yingjie: I threatened them.

Prosecutor: What happened afterward?

Cui Yingjie: Then I left.[6]

Testimony and the deposition, a strong statement form of recalling, is an expression of verbalization. Certainly, those who recall have their own overall view of what happened, vague or clear. However, in the session of questions and answers in the court, the rhetoric tendency of its narrative is broken. Therefore, the recalling statement remains in the stage where language has not been evolved into the narrative stage. The first reason is the form of questions and answers which make people unable to organize their languages in a long statement. On the other hand, although people who answered questions are witnesses, people who asked questions kept adding their own wills, trying to control the thinking mode of the witnesses, or disturb their original recognition, leading them to where they expected them to go. Under the confrontation of the two wills, contradictions and confusion are inevitable, which caused great difficulties for hearer in the court.

The above two dialogues are all about the situation happened before Li Zhiqiang, the victim, was killed when the city administration officers came. To be sure, Cui Yingjie had a dispute with the officers, but what does “dispute” exactly mean? This question seems have no meaning in chronicle texts and is even forgotten by readers. However, under the context of judicial activities (especially in the context of the trial of the criminal case right now), it becomes an important issue. Later, we will see both sides making a fuss on this detail because it is related to how the next plot would be organized.

According to Zhao, the situation at that time was that “when we protected our tricycle, they pulled” and she “begged” the officer (Zhao said that she had already known that those people were city administration officers, and their purpose was to confiscate their things for unlicensed business activity, which is different from what Cui Yingjie had tried to imply). At first, what Cui Yingjie tried to describe was similar to what Zhao said. The prosecutor asked Cui Yingjie “who interfered with your business?” This question seems redundant, but be tactful. If the defendant answered “city administration officers,” it was tantamount to admitting in court that he was against the law enforcement. Moreover, Cui Yingjie seemed to perceive the snare in the question, so he said “I didn't know, just a group of people,” which not only escaped others target, but also described a picture where he was plundered by unidentified people. However, the persecutor suddenly asked Cui Yingjie to answer the question “what did you hold” in strong demand. If we give a look at the Written Opinion Recommending Prosecution of the Public Security Organs and the Indictment of the Procuratorate, what purpose that the prosecutor wanted to achieve and what rhetoric role would the question play in the narrative texts of the prosecution are very clear. The prosecutor attempted to prove that Cui Yingjie came with preparation. While the defendant truthfully admitted that he held a knife in his hands to cut the sausages, he also added that “I scared them,” which can be perceived as “I threatened them” or “I just scared them, and I didn't mean to hurt them.”

Then, the author cannot draw a direct conclusion on what information does the evidence provide or what facts does the evidence prove because evidence, appeared as language, has been a result of rhetoric. If we draw a conclusion here, we are providing the readers with another rhetoric version. Moreover, it is difficult for readers to control how the new rhetoric version is going to change the face of things (because it is the author's rhetoric definitely). In addition, the new rhetoric version may have a lot of misleading and deceptions.

However, we can check out what do the lawsuit participants find from the evidence in their own submission.

The indictment of the Procuratorate gave the description of the case facts as follows: “On 5 p.m. August 11, 2006, at the northwest corner of the road near the Kemao Mansion in Zhongguancun Science Park, Haidian District, Beijing, the defendant Cui Yingjie was punished by the city administration officers in Haidian District for unlicensed business activity, and he held a knife to threaten the officers to against the law enforcement of city administration…”[7] The prosecutor also mentioned for several times in the court that “Cui Yingjie impeded the law enforcement by violent means,” which “can be defined as violent interference with public functions.”[8]

In other words, for the prosecutor, the confrontation between two sides after the officers came and before the victim's death was actually that Cui Yingjie held knife to threaten the law enforcement by violent means. Obviously, this description is far different from what Zhao's words that “When we protected our tricycle, they pulled, and I begged them to leave the tricycle for us. We were all fighting over the tricycle. When I turned around, I found the tricycle had been loaded on their car.”[9] From Zhao's words, we cannot find any information related to violent interference with law enforcement. Meanwhile, the description is also different from that of Cui Yingjie: “I was cutting the sausages with a knife…I scared them…then I left.[10]

The rhetoric of the prosecutor seemed to be achieved by amplifying the “held a knife,” “scared,” etc. (attention, the author did not use the word “deducting” on purpose). The evidence failed to manifest what “scared” exactly means. No matter from the perspective of logic or common sense, there are many existing possibilities and situations where the intimidating words like “I will hurt you if you do not” or the physical conflict like showing the weapon means to use it to attack, or there is no definite words but only cry and scream, and the knife was happened to be held in the hands (because he was cutting the sausages, forgetting to put down the bamboo slips, sausages or brushes, which is correspond with the common sense), or they were just glaring fiercely at each other without saying or doing anything. It is important to exclude reasonable suspicions, especially for the trial of the criminal cases. Even it is impossible to realize such a high requirement in the current Chinese justice, but to minimize the stories that would arouse suspicion remains the bottom line that must be followed in the trial. However, in the prosecutor's rhetoric, other possibilities were ignored, while the facts were narrowly defined as “threatening with a knife and resisting execution of law by violence.”

The witness testimony that listed in the judgment mentioned the rhetoric like threaten by knife when Cui Yingjie had a dispute with officers who confiscated the tricycle. We cannot know the original testimonies as they were rewrite by judges. While the facts confirmed by the court and the narrative texts written in the judgment had already defined Cui Yingjie's action as a confrontation against the law enforcement by threatening with knife. Thus, the author holds that the testimony in the judgment is the judges' narrative and the facts described in the judgment are also the texts assimilated by the judges' narrative, rather than the rhetoric of the witness. Therefore, the author would not apply them as examples in this paper.

If the above examples yet fail it function to provide readers withdraw a clear picture, let's go on with event (6) and event (7).

These two events have been one of the bones of the contention of both sides though the basic situation is very simple. After the dispute on the tricycle between Cui Yingjie and the officers and before Li Zhiqiang was stabbed, Cui Yingjie left the scene and went back again, but little evidence could be provided directly concerning the two events. Only witness Lu Fucai mentioned in the testimony: “The man refused the confiscation, while Li Zhiqiang pulled the tricycle. The man failed to protect his tricycle and ran into a courtyard. Li Zhiqiang and his colleagues loaded the tricycle on their car. After a while, the man with knife came back.[11] In addition, the defendant himself confessed in the court:

Prosecutor: What happened afterward?

Cui Yingjie: Then I left.

Prosecutor: Did those people take actions on you?

Cui Yingjie: I didn't notice.

Prosecutor: Why did you leave?

Cui Yingjie: Because more and more people were coming, and I thought it was useless to asking my tricycle back. Let them take it, and I left.

Prosecutor: Why did you back?

Cui Yingjie: I came back to find the girl.

Prosecutor: What was in your hand at that moment?

Cui Yingjie: I was holding my knife all the time.

Prosecutor: Who did you meet after you came back?

Cui Yingjie: I saw them loading my tricycle on their car.

Prosecutor: Did you see the cloth and the appearance of the victim?

Cui Yingjie: No.[12]

A passage of the video record on the scene which was made by Wang Jinbo in propaganda section of the City Administration Group of Haidian District, may be an evidence of the farthest from the rhetoric and the most objective (the video we can see is the exact one that presented to the court during the trial, which was actually an announcement that had been gone through postproduction such as editing, dubbing, and off-screen narration, all of which described the scene from the standpoint of city administration, and could not be regarded as original material because of the strongly promotional character. However, some fragment could still give us part of the specific circumstances at the scene).[13] The author has repeatedly watched the video where the van and the truck of the officers parked to the left of the camera, while Li Zhiqiang stood beside the van and Cui Yingjie was not within the lens. Then, Cui Yingjie ran from the right side of the camera to the left direction of the truck, passing by Li Zhiqiang who followed Cui Yingjie. What happened next was not photographed because a van blocked the sight.

This evidence is an audio-visual material which presents that a man (the defendant) ran from one side of the camera to the other. It was just a very short physical action, but things went complicated when both sides discussed the “facts.”

According to the Written Opinion Recommending Prosecution submitted by Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau to theFirst Branch of The People's Procuratorate of Beijing:

On around 5 p.m. August 11, 2006, at the northwest corner of the road near the Kemao Building in Zhongguancun Science Park, Haidian District, the criminal suspect Cui Yingjie was punished for unlicensed business activity by the City Administration Group of Haidian District and harbored resentment in his bosom, so he used a knife to stab the vice leader of the City Administration Group, Li Zhiqiang (male, 36 years old), in his neck who died of acute hemorrhagic shock.[14]

Please pay attention, first, Cui Yingjie in this factual text did not leave the scene at all. Second, the rhetoric ways like “was punished, harbored resentment in his bosom, used knife to stab…” were transformed from physical actions to the description of psychological activities though they were all about the facts before the defendant stabbed the victim.

The statement made by the public prosecutor during the court debate phrase was in an obvious preference aiming at defendant's psychological process: “Cui Yingjie had no personal grudges with Li Zhiqiang, but brought forth a revenge idea because he was punished for unlicensed business activity. His revenge idea pointed not only to Li Zhiqiang, but to the officers on the scene.”[15] While the defense adopted the same strategy:

The second time that Cui Yingjie went back to the scene to find the girl who sold goods together with him, rather than revenging… The second time that he went back not to kill Li Zhiqiang but to get his tools back…It only took Cui Yingjie 9 s to rush to the direction of the truck and back to the scene. Then, it lasted only 3 s before Cui Yingjie stabbed the victim after being encircled by the officers. Considering that it is only 3 s, can we really conclude that Cui Yingjie's killing was revenge?[16]

Actually, the basic information concerning the event (5), (6), (7), as far as the evidence itself, is relatively explicit and clear. The current evidence can confirm that Cui Yingjie had dispute with officers and left the scene but went back again. However, that's all the information that the chronicle texts about the case can present. The difficult thing is not to find out the chronicle events from various evidences and clues, but the transformation to narrative history texts. How to explain the way that people get the plots presented in narrative texts from the evidence?

As shown in the video lasts for several seconds, we can see a man ran from the right side of the scene to the other. However, this visual phenomenon needs to be transformed into the language. The author might as well state that the defendant ran from the right side of the scene to the other side with a knife in his hand (can this be regarded as the most realistic truth?). The author can also state that the defendant rushed toward the truck with a knife in his hand (set a certain target for his action, but what is the real target?). However, in the court, the statement about the facts was as followed: the defendant harbored resentment in his bosom and rushed to the officers with a knife in his hand (then he stabbed the vice leader), and the defendant went back to the scene to find the girl, only to find his tricycle was loader on the truck. Hence, he attempted to forward last-ditch effort to get his tricycle back (the incident came in the later chaos).

It is not difficult for us to find the relations between the single event in chronicle texts and the situation shown by the evidence. However, the factual texts are too far away from the original evidence. The author holds that there is a huge and salutatory transformation from evidence to fact, and their relevance was very vague and lack of stable guarantee of certainty and uniqueness. “How to recognize this cognitive process” remains a complicated and unsettled problem among many subjects such as the science of law, the science of evidence, psychology, and even in philosophy.


  General Theory of Evidence Cognition Top


General cognitive approach

Actually, it has already been recognized in jurisprudential academia that direct connections cannot be achieved between evidence and facts. “Fact has never been self-evident and will never automatically appear in front of a judge for the application of the law.”[17] It is also recognized that both litigants jointly would make trade-offs and choices in the case facts that they told for the judges (perhaps the agents) based on their own standpoints and interests. However, for judges and the juror, it is contented that he/she should play a neutral role and should not make trade-offs and distortion deliberately like the litigant, but to find out the facts in the evidence that presented in front of him/her.

A complicated process is inevitable to discover facts that never show up automatically. Moreover, personal interests and subjectivity need to be excluded so as to achieve the so-called factual truth, regardless of legal reality or objective reality in the arguments. The facts finally confirmed by the court are the sole and certain case facts. Thus, the focus of law is about how to regulate the process that the judge found the case facts. A representative summary of this is as follows:

(1) How to solve the problem of subjective arbitrariness when the judges review and determine the evidence? What are the factors that would influence the judges when they are confirming the cases?(2) Whether the judges have the ability to make correct confirmation on the case facts through the examination of evidence? (3) In specific litigation, what are the legal systems that could guarantee that the judges can make correct confirmation on the case facts through the examination of evidence?[18]

Then, how do judges examine the evidence and find out the case facts? Generally speaking, the most obvious and the most widely discussed way in the theory is experience and logic. If people stress that the discovery of the facts is an intellection process where the transformation from evidence to the facts is unidirectional linear and seamless, they would easily imagine it as the form like deductive reasoning. Experience originates from the judge's accurate command of the phenomena of everyday life, including personal experience and other people's experience, social phenomena and theory of knowledge. Moreover, it also comes from the universal perceptions which extracted from the phenomena. For example, comparing the case description of a man with no direct interest than that of one with direct interest, the former one has higher reliability.[19] The abstract proposition extracted from the experience will serve as the major premise. Then similar way of logical inference will be used to examine the relations between the major premise and every individual and specific situation. Finally, it could draw a conclusion.

Another representative and more detailed summary in jurisprudential academia is that the methods of facts finding and confirmation are methods of direct perception, natural science, logic inference, the knowledge of experience, and value judgment.[20]

By adopting the method of direct perception, it is able to immediately obtain the desired content without any reasoning and explanations in intermediated links. For example, according to the video recorded by city administration officers on the scene, people could directly observe that the witness Zhao had a dispute with officers by dragging the tricycle, and Cui Yingjie rushed to the scene from outside suddenly, and can also see the officers that very day did not wear uniforms. The accesses to all of the information are without any deduction (certainly, according to author's thinking mode that the “facts” should be discussed respectively, those content cannot be regarded as the case facts that received final conformation, but be entitled to single events in the case).

The method of natural science, as the name suggests, is a means to obtain information through a variety of approaches of natural science. For instance, through the detection of biotechnology, the bloodstain on the coat left by Cui Yingjie was confirmed to be the blood of the victim Li Zhiqiang; according to the techniques in the field of necropsy, the real reason for Li Zhiqiang's death was the hemorrhagic shock due to the serious injury on vena cava and lungs caused by sharps, and the sharp is the knife that used by Cui Yingjie on the very day. These contents would be difficult to be realized if the theories of natural science and technical specifications are absent.

The method of reasoning, the method of empiricism, and other methods less applied are all methods obtaining messages through indirect inference, rather than having direct access to information. The author holds the opinion that the issues described here are very complicated. The way of logic inference, though frequently being discussed, argued that the means to ensure the preciseness and correctness of thinking, such as rationality, logic, and deduction in the field of law can ensure the fairness of the revealing of the facts and the results of the judgment. However, in judicial process, the word “logic” is as casual as the word “causality,” which implies it does not necessarily represent the relationship judgment between propositions of formal logic and between sentences (rarely relates to mathematical logic). Actually, this kind of way is seldom applied in the context of judicial practice.

First of all, the syllogism deduction of “the major premise-the minor premise-conclusion” is rigorous in its requirement and its applicable objectives are limited to the relations between sentences (propositions) and sentences (propositions). However, the judicial process targets on the relations between experiences and events. They two are not identical. First, the experience and events might not necessarily presented by sentences and it could possibly be in the form of nonverbalization. Second, a single proposition itself is exposed in questioning. For example, the syllogism deduction of “every human being would die – Zhang San is human – so Zhang San would die” can be the answer to the question “whether Zhang San would die or not” under the major premise. However, in judicial activities, problems to be solved are likely to be “do all people die,” or “is Zhang San a real person,” or “did Zhang San really see Li Si at that time.”

Therefore, the logic inference in most judicial activities completely refers to a similarity that is antithetic to daily experience. For example, whether it conforms to people's general imagination toward daily life and social practice if things go this way or the story is described in this way.

Confused and fallacious inference

A story in Ancient Chinese Justice (China University of Political Science and Law press, 2002 compiled by Li Kefei and Yang Jun) is seen as a typical case of finding out the case facts by logic inference. In the story, Zhou Sheng and Zhao San agreed on doing business in Nanjing Province together. Zhao San got up early and went board, falling asleep while waiting for Zhou Sheng. The boatman Zhang Chao poled the boat to a secluded place, pushing Zhao into water, and taking away his belongings. Then, Zhou Sheng came, but Zhang Chao lied about not seeing Zhao. So, Zhou Sheng asked Zhang Chao to come to Zhao San's home. After coming to his home, Zhao Chao shouted outside the door: Mrs. Zhao, where is Zhao San? Mrs. Zhao was surprised and said Zhao San had already left the home. Mrs. Zhao and Zhou Sheng looked for Zhao San for 3 days but found nothing, so they reported it to the local government. At first, county magistrate believed Mrs. Zhao killed his husband. Then, the case was appealed to a higher court. After reading the case, Yang Pingshi analyzed that after knocking the door, Zhao Chao called the name of Mrs. Zhao directly because he knew that Zhao San was not in the house. So, Yang Pingshi confirmed that Zhang Chao was the criminal.[21]

However, the author believed that the inference fails to stand. To take this way of facts finding for the example of “logical inference” is in keeping with the statement mentioned above that the usage of the word “logic” in judicial process is random and cover an obvious speculation of empirical likelihood. In “after knocking the door, Zhang Chao called Mrs. Zhao directly” and “because he knew that Zhao San was not in the house,” the latter seems to be a judgment proposition which implied that whether Zhang Chao knew where was Zhao San under the context of the particular trial, while the former is just a visual scene description without topic sentences, both of which simply cannot form the structure of syllogism. However, in daily life, people do have behaviors like: Having known someone was not at home and it is futile to call his name, so they would call other people. If the usage of the sentence “because…,” we can describe that “because Zhang Chao knew Zhao San was not at home, he called Zhao San's wife.”

However, the thinking mode described here simply bears analogical imagination with daily situations without any logical or casual necessity. In our daily life, there are also many factors that can lead to the same situation where “after knocking the door, Zhang Chao called Mrs. Zhao directly” without knowing whether her husband was at home. For example, what did Zhou Sheng say when he asked Zhang Chao to find Zhao San? If Zhao San had not shown up for a long time and Zhou Sheng conjectured that Zhao San might not at home and was delayed by something on the way, Zhao Chao would be subconsciously influenced and called Mrs. Zhao directly. Moreover, it is known for people who have gained some understanding on psychology that the words that blurted out inadvertently have direct relation with what he or she bears in mind. If Zhang Chao was not the criminal and was informed by Zhou Sheng that Zhao San had not shown up for a long time, he would speculate whether Zhao San had an accident when he was out so he was not home, which might also be the reason that he called Mrs. Zhao directly.

If a speculation not only reasonably fits one familiar daily situation but also conforms to a second situation and the two situations are not mutually exclusive, then the speculation embraces very weak persuasive power.

Let's back to Cui Yingjie Case, event (5). Through directed perception from witness and testimony and the confession of the defendant in the court, we might briefly acknowledge that when Cui Yingjie encountered the officers, they had unfriendly disputed with each other. However, what we might not precisely learn from the current evidence is that the definition of “dispute” that can be fit into judicial context. Was it a situation that Cui Yingjie threatened the officers and spelled resistance on law enforcement or was it simply a worker protecting his tools for livelihood from being confiscated? Now that we cannot draw a direct conclusion, we can only rely on indirect methods.

Both the witness Zhao and the defendant Cui Yingjie asserted that they did not overreact, and they had the dispute with city administration officers only because they did not want their tricycle be confiscated. Since the witness and the defendant were the observer and the perpetrator, there must be of no inference in their direct description of the situation. However, the prosecutor was apparently reluctant if the court adopted the version, so they proposed the “facts” that Cui Yingjie threatened the officers by the knife in his hand which was regarded as a serious violent confrontation against laws. We cannot directly obtain the “threatening” and “resisting execution of law by violence” from the evidence, so where did those conclusions come from? Empirically speaking, it is common and rational for a peddler to refuse officers to confiscate his management tools. Meanwhile, whether the knife in Cui Yingjie's hands (please pay attention that Cui Yingjie kept holding the knife while he was cutting the sausages, rather than taking the knife after seeing the officers) can be connected with Cui Yingjie's action against the officers and be regarded as threatening the law enforcement officers by knife? For a cursory imagination, the argument could be regarded as a rational speculation. However, there are not any conditions here to guarantee its accuracy and nothing can ensure its inevitability within the contexts.

Under general circumstances, how would a peddler react if he was punished by city administration officers? As a normal person with economic rationality to seek advantages and avoid disadvantages, he definitely did not want his property to be confiscated because it would be an obstacle for him to start business again. At that time, the easiest and the most harmless way that one could think of was to run away, but if he was stopped by the officers, it would be a common plot that the peddler would not let the tool go or scramble for it with the officers. Now and then, peddlers would have violent dispute with the officers, or use weapons against them because they were cornered and irritable, which have once happened under the current Chinese social environment. In the case, there was not enough time for Cui Yingjie to escape, so the two circumstances would happen to him according to empirical speculation. First, he had admitted that he had dispute with the officers. Second, he did hold the knife in his hands for cutting the sausages, which would likely to be used as weapon that caused the death of Li Zhiqiang. Both sides could not reach a consensus in the court, especially the prosecutor who held the opinion that the defendant lied about the visual description. What they relied on was only the indirect speculation, but they had never proposed superior reasons. Whether Cui Yingjie's action was the common dispute or violent confrontation against the law remains the two parallel possibilities that cannot be excluded from each other.

What criteria should the court follow to decide which side to believe? Probably, the description of Cui Yingjie and Zhao are more persuasive according to the standard of value of presumption of innocence. However, at the end, we observed that the court did not do so but chose to believe the description that provided by the prosecutor, which conformed Cui Yingjie's action as threatening the officers by knife. Certainly, the verdict did not give reasons to justify why the court confirmed the fact in this way.

Event (7) further proved the confusion of the so-called facts inference.

As aforementioned, we can see the defendant Cui Yingjie ran from one side of the scene to the other in the intuitive evidence material (audition material), which was supposed to be what happened after he left the scene and came back again, and it was also the exact period before Li Zhiqiang was killed. The information derived from directed perception was nothing else but a single and mechanical body move. However, no one had ever simply discussed the body move in the court as everyone believed that they should and they did see the psychological content behind the move.

Virtually, the prosecutor overlooked the events happened after Cui Yingjie left the scene in the prosecution stage and only responded when the defendant mentioned and his lawyer positively emphasized this point. As to the behavior that Cui Yingjie came back to the scene, the prosecutor's interpretation of his intention was to retaliate against the officers by killing them; whereas the defendant and his lawyer were very disgruntled about the interpretation and held the opinion that was not the case. They gave high-profile statement that Cui Yingjie had already given up the dispute between city administration officers, and he left the scene and came back to find Zhao. In addition, his behavior of running toward the crowd and the car of the officers were to try to get his tricycle back, which had nothing to do with the officers. These two views have formed a parallel confrontation that cannot be excluded from each other.

Setting aside Cui Yingjie's true intention (he might be the only one who knew the “truth,” but his position of defendant hugely destroyed the persuasiveness of his words to audience), and also leave alone how people including the prosecutor, the defense attorney, the judge, and people who cared about the case inside and outside of the court dealt with such a situation. First, the body move we observed had been transformed into psychological activities that we failed to see, so how to guarantee the certainty of the logic in the transformation process? It is rather a vogue question to find what factors in the case that made it possible for people to judge that the behavior had reflected the content out of itself, which is hard to decide whether it is can be solved by logic. Probably, less strict logic inference can be applied as we can put it in the way that according to our long-term research on human behavior, thought, and emotion, it is widely acknowledged that a normal person's behavior has his own purpose. Therefore, Cui Yingjie must have something to do when he returned the scene for the second time.

Afterward, when we are supposed to reify the purpose of the defendant, the matter became more complicated. Was it revenge or finding someone? Where can we conclude such detailed psychological motives? How to demonstrate the logic relation? When seeing a man running from one side of the camera to the other, how to draw the conclusion of “harboring resentment in his heart and carrying out revenge intentionally?” Actually, both sides have failed to find any argument in court, and they just insisted on their opinion, but the author believes that it was impossible to give argument.

It would be easier to make out a good case if we rely on experience. Because of the confiscation of tools, the peddler was in extreme emotions and wanted to revenge against the officers. This is a rational plot because it conforms to our observation toward real life where similar cases did happen. If we favored the statement of the prosecutor and regarded Cui Yingjie as a ferocious scoundrel who threatened the officers by knife, it is convincing to some extent that Cui Yingjie would commit the crime because he harbored resentment in his heart.

On the other hand, if readers are inclined to believe the views of Cui Yingjie and his defense attorney, his leave clearly illustrated that he had given up the dispute with officers. He came back to the scene only to find Zhao and get back of his own property that had been confiscated, which also conforms to people's daily experience. Under the same condition, we are still in a dilemma (actually, in the video clipped, the author noted that there was a set of passages at the truck of the officers when a tricycle was being loaded and the witness Zhao, the girl in yellow in the camera still held on to one end of the tricycle, and a male officer seized her round the middle and pushed her to the side. At that time, Zhao was alone, and Cui Yingjie was not in the passages, which proved that Cui Yingjie and Zhao were separated from each other for a while and revealed Cui Yingjie's description that he saw his tricycle was loaded on the truck. However, this detail was ignored in the trial).

Although the methodology of evidence could generally list some theories and classify the cognition and thinking mode of evidence and facts, the validity of explanation would be quite weak when the micro theory came across specific and detailed realistic issues. In terms of the cognition of “evidence fact” in justice, many dedicated and meticulous research in psychology have been conducted, one of which is the “story model” that proposed by the American psychologists Nancy Pennington and Reid Hastie in the late 1980s and 1990s in the study on the judgment psychology of the jury in criminal cases in Anglo-American Legal System. It also gained considerable recognition in psychological study related to justice since the 1990s. The author holds that this model has a very strong explanatory power in the detailed aspects of cognitive process of evidence, events, and facts, especially the interpretation of the evidence mentioned above could get rational explanation in the model.


  The Theory of Story Model of Evidence Cognition Top


A brief introduction to story model: Story comes before evidence

According to the basic viewpoint concerning story model of evidence cognition in trial, the cognitive sequence of evidence and the facts is a one-way linear process from evidence to facts. Our traditional thought of the cognitive process which is to first make observation, reflection, and analysis of the evidence material to find out the relations between evidence and then gradually get close to the complete facts, is false imagination. In reality, when people briefly know the information about the case and browse the evidence presented to them for the first time, they would form a narrative story concerning the basic overlook of the case; then, they would observe and reorganize under the guidance of the narrative case story, which means the way that they understand the present information largely depends on the story that has previously formed in people's mind. Moreover, the detailed formation of the story depends on factors such as personal experience and cultural background of the judges.[22]

A simple example at hand is, when people heard somebody claimed that he had lost his wallet with a crack on his bag in the public place, they would immediately come up with the following narrative text: A thief (most would imagine a young man with a thin figure in shabby cloth) who waited to commit a crime in the crowded station or shopping mall, sneaked onto the victim's handbag and gash it, casting away the wallet when the victim paid no attention and running away. The reasons behind the imagination were first because most people are familiar with such stories as they have heard or seen similar events and been told to be careful about the cutpurse in public place. Second, the key information of public place, lost wallet, and the crack on the bag would cause directive association. Once we came up with such a narrative story, we are actually re-evaluating the provided information. The lost wallet is interpreted as pilferage, and the crack on the handbag looks like the thief had cut it by a blade.

However, the organization of story would not remain unchangeable during the whole trial process. There might be more than one text. However, when turning back to check the evidence, it might only find out to be a failure of verification, and then the story would be amended. For example, if someone looked through the rip in the carrier bag and found that the edge was not neat which looked like scratch damage by blunt pull. At this point, people would come up with another imagination: the owner of the lost property was in a crowded station or a shopping mall where his bag was inadvertently scraped with some metal objects and was ripped, but the owner did not notice that the wallet dropped from the rip. When the story was revised, we got new explanation for the evidence we saw. The wallet was lost recklessly instead of being stolen. The rip on the bag was caused by the owner himself instead of cut by the theft.

Two interpretation versions of the original information were decided by the preoccupations of the imaginative stories. If we changed story, there might be other explanations such as the wallet was not lost but was forgotten at home, or the rip, though not neat, was still cut by the thief. In that case, how to ensure the accuracy of the understanding of evidence and the conformation of the facts in the trial of the case?

Nancy Pennington and Reid Hastie held the opinion that the story model was made up by three parts: “(1) evaluate the evidence through story construction; (2) list the results after examining the rules of the jury trial; (3) draw the judicial conclusion by finding out the most appropriate and the best matched story and connecting it to the rules.”[23] Meanwhile, the model also embraces four deterministic principles:

(1) Coverage, which means the stories created must cover all reliable evidence; (2) coherence, which means the stories should not be self-contradict; (3) uniqueness, which means a variety of texts cannot co-exist at the same time, and only one fact of the case can be confirmed at last; and (4) goodness of fit, which means to achieve the best match adaption with the corresponding legal rules.[24]

A story concerning the case must include three parts of knowledge: (1) information occurred on the court including different evidence, witness, and testimony, and the confession made by the litigant; (2) stories in inquisitor's mind that are similar with or related to the current case, like the similar cases happened in the inquisitor's community; (3) people's common expectation to a story with complete plots, like having both beginning and end or making out a good case.[25]

Coverage and coherence decide the degree of acceptance of the story of the case. The more the story could cover the evidence information in the trial, the more comprehensive the evidence provided for the inquisitor could be used, and the degree of the acceptance for using the story to explain the relations between evidence could also be higher (soon we will see that it is difficult to realize the coverage and coherence in reality). The coherence in story is also a significant index to ensure the reliability that people understand and explain the evidence. While whether the story is conformed to the real events would be another story. The coherence itself must be complete without any contradiction, and the story must embrace the feeling of plausibility which means the description of the plots in the stories and the involved cases must correspond with people's experience and imagination toward the real life.

It is necessary to stress that readers should not misapprehend that the story model discusses how evidence is constructed into case stories. On the contrary, the purpose of the theory is to explain how people get to know the evidence. Its essence lies in that it creatively discovered that people understand information of the evidence through the construction of stories. In other words, people first come up with stories in their minds and then acquire different understanding toward evidence through stories. Information, together with the original information provided by it, makes no sense itself. The so-called meaning was “endowed” throughout story.

Analyze the evidence cognition of Cui Yingjie case through story model

In the first section, we have studied some part of evidence in Cui Yingjie Case, and we have also learned the different applications and interpretations that both sides adopted in the trial phase of the case, but neither of them could provide a reliable logic to illustrate the necessity of their statements. If we evaluate this situation by the theory of story model of evidence cognition, we can at least give a reasonable explanation to the understanding of the mechanism.

Let's retrospect the case facts in the Written Opinion Recommending Prosecution issued by Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau (see the first section in this paper) and the Indictment issued by theFirst Branch of Beijing Municipal People's Procuratorate:

On around 5 p.m. of August 11, 2006, at the northwest corner of the road near the Kemao Mansion in Zhongguancun Science Park, Haidian District, Beijing, the defendant Cui Yingjie was punished by the law enforcement officers of City Administration Group of Haidian District of Beijing Municipal Bureau of City Administration and Law Enforcement for unlicensed business activity. Cui Yingjie held a knife as a threat and resisted the law enforcement. Moreover, the defendant gave a fierce stab on the neck of Li Zhiqiang (male, died at 36 years old). The stab hurt Li Zhiqiang on the right brachiocephalic vein and the right upper lobe which caused a hemorrhagic shock and death.[26]It could be inferable that the police and the prosecution had firmly believed that it was an intentional injury or intended murder (the charge accused in the Written Opinion Recommending Prosecution was intentional injury causing death which was revised as intended murder in the indictment issued by Beijing Municipal People's Procuratorate). The stereotype has never been changed from prosecution to the trial phrase of the case. Evidence and case information under control are the case clues and core events listed at the end of the second section of this paper. When dealing with a case where unlicensed peddlers clashed with law enforcement team and caused the death of the vice leader of the city administration, it is not difficult to imagine a story following the thread of intended murder. The peddler knew that he had carried out illegal business activities and he did not want to be punished, but he could not escape so he decided to fight against the officers by violent ways. Finally, a certain attacker stabbed someone to death at the scene.

It seems that the content of the Written Opinion Recommending Prosecution is true in every single sentence and is coherent with clear casual relations among events. The evidence showed that Cui Yingjie was stopped by city administration officers for unlicensed business activity, and Cui Yingjie did hold a knife in his hand and use it to kill the victim Li Zhiqiang. Certainly, because of the foreshadowing, we know that the evidence is what the story tried to show. Because this is the story where a rascal who carried out illegal business activities fought against law enforcement in a violent way and intentionally killed someone. Therefore, “Cui Yingjie had a knife in his hand/Cui Yingjie had a dispute with the officers” were explained as “threatening the law enforcement officers by holing a knife.” Since this is the story where a rascal fought against law enforcement in a violent way and intentionally killed someone, “Cui Yingjie went back to the scene” was clarified as “harboring resentment in his bosom and attempted to revenge” and “giving a fierce stab on Li Zhiqiang.”

As to the coverage, this story is dubious as there are eight core events in the case, but only five of them were presented. The event (1), (4), and (6) were missing (technically, the prosecution also ignored the event (7) where Cui Yingjie went back to the scene). The information presented by the missing events include Cui Yingjie's economic and living condition and the loopholes in the process of law enforcement of the officers, as well as his behavior of leaving the scene after giving up the dispute with the officers. Possibly, according to the theory of Nancy Pennington and Reid Hastie, the rationality of the story is dubious because almost half of the case information is missing, and the explanatory power of the evidence is greatly weakened. However, the reality of judicial practice is not that simple.

In the court, people not only need to discuss the evidence, events, and the understanding and judgment between them, but also need to discuss whether the events had relations with the case facts. For example, in the stage of court hearing of Cui Yingjie Case, the defense attorney of Cui Yingjie required to submit document to prove that Cui Yingjie got Outstanding Soldier Award and the testimony that Cui Yingjie was a good man as well as the proof that Cui Yingjie had no irregularity record before, but all of them were refused by the judge with reason that these events had nothing with the case. Actually, the prosecution excluded the events with the same reason. For them, those contents had nothing to do with the case facts of intended murder. The story model not only decides how people understand and explain the evidence but also determines how people identify and screen the correlation between information and the case.

This issue was specifically addressed by the American scholars, Lynda Olsen-Fulero and Solomon M. Fulero in their promoting research on story model theory. In a psychological experiment of rape case designed by them, 48 participants watched a court hearing video where a female claimed she went to a frat party alone, and when she was drinking with several people in the basement, a male raped her. After watching the video, the participants were required to describe what happened based on the information provided by the video and played the role of the jury to give judgment to decide whether the defendant was guilty or the victim should take responsibility herself.[27]

In the experiment process, a common phenomenon was found that when constructing story, the selection and neglect of some factors and plots are closely related to the judgments. For example, both sides mentioned in the testimony that the defendant (male) asked the victim (female) to take some wines from the basement for the party before the rape happened; however, only those who confirmed the defendant was guilty took account of this plot in their description while those who held that the defendant was innocent and the victim should take responsibility did not comprise the detail. Psychologists believe that this phenomenon illustrated that “if a juryman believed that the defendant raped the victim, this evidence would be very important as it implied that it was the defendant that manipulated her into the basement.”[28] At the same time, both sides in the video had testified that there had been several men and women drinking in the basement, but only those who affirmed that the defendant was innocent included the detail in the description, “because in their opinion, it was the victim (after drinking revelry) that allured and incited the defendant (to have sex with her).”[29]

In Cui Yingjie case, the circumstances were also typical. The defense attorney totally disagreed with the prosecutor. The defense attorney hoped to clarify that Cui Yingjie was not a criminal or an evil man who fought against law enforcement violently at the beginning. In the meantime, they held that the case facts were different from what the prosecutor described. Therefore, in the story constructed by the defense attorney, Cui Yingjie was a poor and well-behaved farmer who accidently killed someone because the unfair treatment and the confiscation of his living tools. There is no doubt that the story must cover event (1) and event (6). As the experiment conclusion of Lynda Olsen-Fulero and Solomon M. Fulero showed, the two events were the decisive plots in this version and also a dividing line between both sides.

According to the prosecutor, the event (1) had nothing to do with the case. However, the defendant believes that it is an event worthy notice, because it presented the background of Cui Yingjie and his reasons for selling goods on the street. The event (1) also explained Cui Yingjie's dispute with the officers – being compelled by poverty and had no way out, which greatly weakened the prosecutor's statement that Cui Yingjie was a cruel man who attempted to revenge. On the contrary, it emphasized that Cui Yingjie just wanted to have his property back. The event (6) was significant for the defense attorney because they thought the event showed that Cui Yingjie had actually given up his tricycle and the dispute with the officers and left the scene, which to some extent demonstrated that Cui Yingjie did not want to kill someone for revenge or even hurt someone. The event (4) was more subtle because when the defense attorney asked Cui Yingjie and witness Zhao, both of them said that the officers did not wear uniforms or present any certificate and papers. The officers even did not give any explanation. The prosecutor gave no objection in the court but did not mention it in the case facts they proposed. The defense attorney tried to put focus on the event to remind the judge and the public that the officer's behavior had defects that could influence the defendant's judgment and behavior. In other words, the victim and other officers should take responsibility for the following dispute and the tragedy.

When we examine the same evidence through the story created by the defense attorney, the evidence could present different meanings. Zhao's word “we protected the tricycle but they pulled” was not regarded as violent behavior but a rational action to protect their own property. Later, both Zhao and Cui Yingjie mentioned that they “begged them to leave the tricycle,”[30] which not only strengthened their poor living condition but also proved how humble and miserable they were. Moreover, it was hard to imagine that Cui Yingjie was a cruel man who threatened the officers by a knife. In addition, the knife in Cui Yingjie's hand (which was described as “dagger”) could be explained to be unforgotten to put down while cutting the sausages.

As to the passage shown by the video that Cui Yingjie ran into the crowd with knife in his hand, prosecution and defendant had different explanations. One the one hand, it could be interpreted as revenge because of the punishment or the defendant just wanted his tricycle back. On the other hand, his action had nothing to do with his later hurtful behavior. Neither side gave rigorous reasoning concerning their judgment. Indeed, according the detailed record of the court hearing, they hardly attempted to do so. Essentially, how to understand and illustrate the content presented by the evidence largely depends on the nature of the story chosen by both sides. The prosecutor provided a direct intended murder story, thus when interpreting evidence, each behavior of the defendant was inclined to intended murder.

The defense attorney chose another story where Cui Yingjie was not a scoundrel at the very beginning, though this characteristic is a typical image in people's imagination of intended murder case. In the story, Cui Yingjie was a poor and disadvantaged peddler who was unable to fight against the city administration officers and killed someone if it were not for the confiscation of his living tools. Under the guidance of beforehand cognition, the recognition and understanding toward evidence experienced orientated changes that different from the prosecutor, which basically tilted to the establishment of the factual text. Therefore, according to the defense attorney, the passage in the camera where Cui Yingjie ran back to the crowd was explained as to go back to find Zhao but only to see his tricycle was loaded on the car. Consequently, he attempted to get it back, which also clarified that his behavioral motive (to find Zhao and get tricycle back) had nothing to do with criminal, i.e., Cui Yingjie did not intentionally killed Li Zhiqiang in subjective aspect.

To a large extend, the cognition and explanation of the evidence relies on people's narrative imagination and construction on the process of the case. As a result, many original and direct information of the evidence changes dramatically once they were embedded into the narrative factual texts. Moreover, people often fail to find rigorous logic reasoning for the change. The mechanism of imagination is a representation of the past events through reproduction. What kind of historical events can be the template for the current story construction? It is hard to say why some people were inclined to choose the story of intended murder like the prosecutor did, while others preferred the defense attorney's version – a very complicated psychological process (Lynda Olsen-Fulero and Solomon M. Fuero tried to use the theory of empathy in psychology to explain the phenomenon, and the author thinks it has strong explanatory power.). However, we can obviously perceive that experience and standpoint bear great power.

However, the problem is, if the cognition of evidence only enables itself to meet the rationality of experience, how could the story's uniqueness be in guarantee? The cognition theory of Nancy Pennington and Reid Hastie first emphasized the consistency inside the story and then mentioned the key function of the uniqueness: A story must first possess the internal coherence without any huge loophole and contradiction. However, if more than one story has the same coherence, it would bring a lot of uncertain factors for the cognition of evidence.[31] Nancy Pennington and Reid Hastie did not give detailed analysis on this kind of uncertainty that whether this is the certainty of the evidence cognition and final judgment that the jury had. Because one of the key points of the theory of story model of the evidence cognition is that the story which could organize the case information and give them meaning in the court actually “determine the jury's judgment.”[32]

Nevertheless, neither side of Cui Yingjie Case showed any confidence or gave explanation on the evidence or the story they constructed. If they “missed” almost half of the case information like the prosecutor did but still felt in the right and self-confident in the trial, we could even say that it was because the large amount of information was missing, the story seemed to be especially “convinced” and undisputed. As it is widely known that with more complicated material and much more information, it would be more difficult to organize a story without loophole. The case information that left out by the prosecutor was certainly the factors that would bring questions for the charge of intended murder. Both sides felt confident about the versions they proposed and also believed the understanding and the interpretation under the frame of their own stories. Besides the coverage, the two stories are basically the same in coherence. Empirically speaking, both of them are rational. A vicious gangster, who fought against the law enforcement violently to get rid of the fine after being punished for his illegal business activities, came up with the idea of revenge and gave vent to his anger by killing someone after the confiscation of his living tools. The casual relation between actions and plots is obvious without any weak point or loopholes. Given the persuasiveness of the readers, it was generally in line with the similar events and experience happened in the real life. On the other hand, a poor farmer who earned a meager income by selling things on the streets was driven away by the city management team. To protect his living tools, he begged or entangled with the officers to such an extent as to be emotional. In the end, he killed someone in fear and panic. This version likewise has clear casual relations between actions, and people's reaction on their surrounding environment is also consistent with social rationality. On the whole, the story has no loophole and its rationality also meets people's common sense on similar events and scenes.

With regard to the author's presumption, there is no superior standard to distinguish which organization of the story is closer to the fact and which side is more correct concerning the understanding toward the evidence. Actually, the case facts cannot be achieved through evidence alone. The chain between evidence and the factual text is not seamless as the two always show a disjointed and unsustainable relation. Therefore, the topic of this paper described the transformation from the evidence to the facts as an incoherent and leaping state.

From author's perspective, besides evidence and evidence cognition, one other mechanism also plays a significant role in completing a final text on the case facts in the judicial trial process. This mechanism, mainly linguistic, is a strategy issue that occurs when people use the language purposefully. Moreover, problems in this area have been long ignored and surpassed by modern science of law in research.

Financial support and sponsorship

This paper is supported by the Opening Project of Key Laboratory of Evidence Science (China University of Political Science and Law) granted by the Ministry of Education, China (2016KFKT09).

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

1.
Criminal Judgment of theFirst Intermediate People's Court, Beijing (2006) No. 3500, Yi Zhong Criminal Chu Zi.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Trial transcript of Cui Yingjie Case heard in theFirst Intermediate People's Court, Beijing, 12th December, 2006, http://tieba baidu.com/p/226845523. [Last accessed on 2015 Mar 01].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Trial transcript of Cui Yingjie Case heard in theFirst Intermediate People's Court, Beijing, 12th December, 2006. Available from: http://tieba baidu.com/p/226845523. [Last accessed on 2015 Mar 01].  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Bernd Rernd R. Jurisprudence, translated by Ding Xiaochun, Wu Yue, Beijing: Law Press; 2003. p. 298.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Su Li, Spread Law to the Countryside China University of Political Science and Law Press, 2000. p. 162.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Trial transcript of Cui Yingjie Case heard in theFirst Intermediate People's Court, Beijing, 12th December, 2006, http://tieba baidu. com/p/226845523. [Last accessed on 2015 Mar 01].  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Indictment of theFirst Branch of Beijing People's Procuratorate, No. 243, Jing Jian Yi Fen Criminal Prosecution (2006).  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Trial transcript of Cui Yingjie Case heard in theFirst Intermediate People's Court, Beijing, 12th December, 2006, http://tieba baidu. com/p/226845523. [Last accessed on 2015 Mar 01].  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Ibid  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Ibid.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Criminal Judgment of theFirst Intermediate People's Court, Beijing (2006) No. 3500, Yi Zhong Criminal Chu Zi.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.
Available from: http://www.bjcg.gov.cn/cgxw/ztxx/lzqzt/yyzl/index.htm. [Last accessed on 2007 Aug 02].  Back to cited text no. 12
    
13.
Available from: http://www.bjcg.gov.cn/cgxw/ztxx/lzqzt/yyzl/index.htm. [Last accessed on 2007 Aug 02].  Back to cited text no. 13
    
14.
Prosecution Opinions of the Public Security Bureau, Beijing, No. 516 Jing Gong Yu Su Zi.  Back to cited text no. 14
    
15.
Trial transcript of Cui Yingjie Case heard in theFirst Intermediate People's Court, Beijing, 12th December, 2006. Available from: http://tieba baidu. com/p/226845523. [Last accessed on 2015 Mar 01].  Back to cited text no. 15
    
16.
Trial transcript of Cui Yingjie Case heard in theFirst Intermediate People's Court, Beijing, 12th December, 2006. Available from: http://tieba baidu.com/p/226845523. [Last accessed on 2015 Mar 01].  Back to cited text no. 16
    
17.
Yang Jianjun. Interpreation of Legal Fact Shandong People's Press, 2007. p. 143.  Back to cited text no. 17
    
18.
Zhang Bin, A Jurisprudence Retrospect on Evidence Methods, (2003) (6), Journal of Southwest University for Nationalities (Social Sciences Edition) 60, 64.  Back to cited text no. 18
    
19.
Zhang Bin. A Jurisprudence Retrospect on Evidence Methods, (2003) (6), Journal of Southwest University for Nationalities (Social Sciences Edition) 60, 64.  Back to cited text no. 19
    
20.
Yang Jianjun. Interpretations of Legal Fact Shandong People's Press. 2007. p. 126.  Back to cited text no. 20
    
21.
Yang Jianjun. Interpreation of Legal Fact Shandong People's Press. 2007. p. 153.  Back to cited text no. 21
    
22.
For a detailed elaboration on the Story Model of Nancy Pennington and Reid Hastie, please refer to Nancy Pennington and Reid Hastie, “Explaining the Evidence: Test of the Story Model for Juror Decision Making”, Personality and Social Psychology, 1992, Vol. 62, No. 2: 189-206. And Nancy Penning-ton and Reid Hastie, “The Story Model for Juror Decision Making”, in, Inside the Juror, ed. Reid Hastie, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 84-115.  Back to cited text no. 22
    
23.
Nancy Pennington and Reid Hastie, “Explaining the Evidence: Test of the Story Model for Juror Decision Making” Personality and Social Psychology, 1992, Vol. 62, No. 2.  Back to cited text no. 23
    
24.
24 Ibid.  Back to cited text no. 24
    
25.
Nancy Pennington and Reid Hastie, “Explaining the Evidence: Test of the Story Model for Juror Decision Making” Personality and Social Psychology, 1992, Vol. 62, No. 2.  Back to cited text no. 25
    
26.
Indictment of theFirst Branch of Beijing People's Procuratorate, No. 243, Jing Jian Yi Fen Criminal Prosecution; 2006.  Back to cited text no. 26
    
27.
Lynda Olsen-Fulero and Solomon M. Fulero, “Commonsense Rape Judgments: An Empathy-Complexity Theory of Rape Juror Story Making,” Psychology, Public Policy and Law, 1997, Vol. 3, No. 2/3.  Back to cited text no. 27
    
28.
Lynda Olsen-Fulero and Solomon M. Fulero, “Commonsense Rape Judgments: An Empathy-Complexity Theory of Rape Juror Story Making”, Psychology, Public Policy and Law, 1997, Vol. 3, No. 2/3.  Back to cited text no. 28
    
29.
Ibid.  Back to cited text no. 29
    
30.
Trial transcript of Cui Yingjie Case heard in theFirst Intermediate People's Court, Beijing, 12th December, 2006, http://tieba baidu. com/p/226845523 (visit date: 1st March, 2015).  Back to cited text no. 30
    
31.
Nancy Pennington and Reid Hastie, “Explaining the Evidence: Test of the Story Model for Juror Decision Making, Personality and Social Psychology”, 1992, Vol. 62, No. 2.  Back to cited text no. 31
    
32.
Ibid.  Back to cited text no. 32
    




 

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