Collected Cases of Injustice Rectified

Collected Cases of Injustice Rectified
XiYuanJiLuDiagram.jpg
Traditional Chinese洗冤集錄
Nomenclature of human bones in Sòng Cí: Xǐ-yuān lù jí-zhèng, edited by Ruǎn Qíxīn (1843).

Collected Cases of Injustice Rectified or the Washing Away of Wrongs is a Chinese book written by Song Ci in 1247[1] during the Song Dynasty (960-1276) as a handbook for coroners. The author combined many historical cases of forensic science with his own experiences and wrote the book with an eye to avoiding injustice. The book was esteemed by generations of officials, and it was eventually translated into English, German, Japanese, French and other languages.

It is the first ever written book of forensic science.

Content

Different versions of the book exist, but the earliest existing version was published during the Yuan Dynasty, containing fifty-three chapters in five volumes. The first volume describes the imperial decree issued by Song Dynasty on the inspection of bodies and injuries. The second volume contains notes and methods on post-mortem examinations. The third, fourth, and fifth volumes detail the appearances of corpses from various causes of death and methods of treatments to certain injuries of a wounded person.[2]

Song Ci ruled regulation about autopsy report for court, how to protect the evidence in the examining process, the reason why workers must show examination to public impartiality;[3] how to wash dead body for examining the different reasons of death. At that time, the book had given methods to distinguish suicide or pretending suicide.[4]

In the book, Song said:

The particulars of each case must be recorded in the doctor’s own handwriting. No one else is allowed to write his autopsy report. A coroner must not avoid performing an autopsy just because he detests the stench of corpses. A coroner must refrain from sitting comfortably behind a curtain of incense that masks the stench, letting his subordinates do the autopsy unsupervised, or allowing a petty official to write his autopsy report, otherwise any potential inaccuracy is unchecked and uncorrected.”

He also said:

“Should there be any inaccuracy in an autopsy report, injustice would remain with the deceased as well as the living. A wrongful death sentence without justice may claim one or more additional lives, which would in turn result in feuds and revenges, prolonging the tragedy. In order to avoid any miscarriage of justice, the coroner must immediately examine the case personally.”