31 Com. L. League J. 529 (1926)
International Mixed Court of Shanghai, the; Meighen, John F. D.

handle is hein.journals/clla31 and id is 531 raw text is: COMMERCIAL LAW LEAGUE JOURNAL

THE INTERNATIONAL MIXED COURT
OF SHANGHAI
By John F. D. Meighen, of Albert Lea, Minn.

From a modest beginning in 1864 it has become
the most powerful court of first instance in the
world. The International Mixed Court at Shanghai
determines the controversies of a million people
within and near the International Settlement and it
determines them finally. It says the last word.
There is no appeal from its decisions. No other
tribunal, no person, no department of government
can grant a new trial or set aside its acts. As to this
million of people, its jurisdiction is practically un-
limited. The official report of the Mixed Court
shows that for the one month of March, 1925, it sen-
tenced fifteen persons to death for crimes of vio-
lence. During the year 1924 ninety-two received
the death sentence and were sent to the arsenal.
Some of its money judgments are for millions of
taels.
Bear in mind that in 1924 Shanghai stood second
among the ports of the world in. entrances and clear-
ances; its International Settlement has a population
exceeding that of entire states such as Maine, South
Dakota or Oregon, and is, in many aspects, a free
city; it has large manufacturing and commercial in-
terests, and litigation is heavy.
A morning visit to the Mixed Court finds trials
progressing in several court rooms in each of which
a native magistrate and a foreign assessor-a yellow
native and a white foreigner-are sitting as judges.
If the visit chanced to be during Junie or July of 1925,
the visitor was impressed by an ominous steel struc-
ture, an armored car, at the nearby street corner and
by the plentiful fixed bayonets and savage revolvers
carried by men in uniform in and about the building.
It is not a court where some superannuated bailiff
is relied upon to preserve order. Litigation is dis-
posed of speedily. Many a court in the United
States consumes more time in selecting a jury than
the Mixed Court would take for the entire trial.
There the judicial machinery is not slowed by
constitutional restrictions, providing for jury trials
and commanding that no person in a criminal case
shall be called as a witness against himself.
No oath is administered to a witness, no Bible is
kissed, but if, after warning, the witness persists in
telling what the magistrate and sitting assessor, con-
sider an untruth, they may try him at once, send
him to jail if found guilty (which criminal proceed-
ing may be finished within half an hour) and then
continue the trial of the case in which he was testi-
fying.
As there are no appeals, exceptions are of no use
and a lawyer does not try his case with the purpose
of obtaining a reversal in a higher court. At times

there are long objections and emphatic protests from
the members of the bar during trials, but gossip
asserts that most of the protests arise from the de-
sire of Chinese clients for a vigorous lawyer, one
who speaks -up loudly for his cause and denounces
the opposition-in short, they desire a lawyer who
can make a noise-a rather natural wish for a race
that loves exploding firecrackers and the firing of
guns in the air.
The lawyers practicing before the Mixed Court,
about 200, are of many nationalities, including Chi-
nese, British, Japanese, Americ6'n, French, Aus-
trian, Portuguese, German, Italian, Spanish and
Russian and as a natural result the procedure and
practice is a growth containing contributions from
different systems of law. Hearsay and opinion tes-
timony is admitted quite freely. At the trial of a
number of students and others upon a charge of riot-
ing, part of the claimed mob into which the munici-
pal police fired May 30th this year, I heard the pub-
lic prosecutor obtain from his own witness, a mere
passer-by, answers to questions like this: Is it rea-
sonable to suppose that the crowd increased after
you left? and What would have happened if the
police had not fired?
In some ways that public prosecutor was, quite
like his American brother. He dramatically in-
formed the court in his opening statement that none
of the rioters were shot in the back. A moment later
when his first mvdical witness testified that the bul-
let hole indicated a bullet had entered from the back,
the prosecutor unabashed continued, Might he not
just then have turned around urging his fellow riot-
ers to follow on ? The prosecutor glared at the de-
fendants, a rather bookish-looking student group,
and sneered, Ignorant schoolboy! conceited! mate-
rials for Bolsheviks! as though that established
'heir guilt.
The court administers Chinese law and the local
laws of the International Settlement. A son is sued
upon a promissory note, which he never signed,
never guaranteed, never heard of, but'when the orig-
inal note is produced in court showing the original
signature of the deceased father made years before
the son was born,- judgment is promptly entered.
against the son, for Chinese law does not recognize
the outlawing of claims and follows the maxim, 'A
son pays his dead father's debts. Our many stat-
utes of limitation, statutes upon which so many real
estate titles rest, are almost unknown in China.
The Mixed Court may hold that surviving rela-
tives have acted properly in adopting a descendant
and heir for a childless decedent without the dead

November, 1926

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