(Minghui.org) Qian Ruoshui, an official of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127 AD), was known for his abilities, judgment, and knowledge.
A historian of the Song Dynasty, Guang, documented in Sushui Notes how Qian exonerated an innocent family wrongfully charged for murder during his term as judicial assistant, despite pressure from his supervisors.
The head of the Tongzhou Prefecture was impatient, subjective and often was in the wrong. When this happened, Qian try to reason with him, yet he routinely rejected Qian's advice, even when issues were found to be mishandled.
For example, a maid in a rich family was reported missing by her parents. The head of the Tongzhou Prefecture ordered the inspector to investigate. The inspector happened to bear a grudge against the family, as he had tried to borrow money but had been refused.
The inspector ended up charging the father and sons with killing the maid and throwing her body into the river. The father and sons denied the charges, so the inspector tortured them until they said that they killed the maid.
Based on the forced confessions, the inspector assigned different degrees of guilt, but demanded that all should be executed.
The inspector delivered the case file to the head of the prefecture who asked that a number of judicial officials review the case. Most officials agreed that the verdict was appropriate, and offered their support. Qian was the only one who expressed doubt. He thought that the case should be handled more carefully, as execution for murder without hard evidence showed little respect for human life.
When the inspector heard about this, he went to Qian's office and reprimanded him.
“You've taken a bribe from the rich family, haven't you,” he said. “Otherwise, why would you want to commute the death sentence?” Qian responded that several people's lives depended on the outcome of the verdict, so how could he not carefully examine their written confessions.
Qian delayed the case for about 10 days. The head of the prefecture pressed him several times to move forward with the execution, but Qian did not send the paperwork back. Most of his superiors and subordinates accused him of procrastination.
Finally, Qian went to see the prefecture head and said that he held up the case because he wanted to locate the maid, which he did.
The head verified Qian's findings and set the father and sons free. The family cried and thanked him, but they were told that they should thank Qian.
On arrival at Qian's home, he refused to meet with them because he did not want their gratitude and gifts. Since they could not thank Qian, they donated all their property to the local temple.
The head of the prefecture wanted to file a report to the emperor, and reward and recognize Qian's work. Qian would not hear of it.
“All I wanted was a fair resolution of the case, so that no innocent people would be wrongfully executed,” he said. “Reward and recognition are not what I want.”
The head was moved, and held Qian in high regard.
Shortly afterwards, the emperor learned about Qian's integrity and capability, and promoted him even though it contradicted standard procedure. Qian was put in charge of drafting imperial decrees within half a year, and within two years he was appointed to the position of deputy prime minister.