Hunan's high court agreed to hear an appeal by Tang Hui, the mother of a teenage girl who was raped and forced into prostitution by local officials.
A lower court had dismissed her compensation claim last month against local authorities who sent her to a labour camp for protesting inappropriately.
Tang was sentenced to 18 months of re-education through labour at a camp in Yongzhou last year but was released after just over a week when her case sparked a public outcry. She said she was not optimistic about the appeal, even though the high court had said on Sunday that it would review her case over compensation for her incarceration.
"The bureaucrats shield one another in their wrongdoings, and I'm nobody compared to them," Tang said. "I was so optimistic when the intermediate court accepted my appeal last month, but in the end the verdict devastated me because it wasn't ruled based on law."
On April 19, the intermediate court in Yongzhou rejected Tang's demands that the local labour camp commission should pay her about 1,500 yuan (HK$1,800) for the loss of her freedom for nine days in the camp in August, 1,000 yuan for psychological damage and give her a written apology. The commission had rejected her claim for compensation in November.
Tang said she felt like committing suicide after she lost the first appeal because, she said, the mainland legal system was too "filthy". But she lodged another appeal with the higher court on April 30 after lawyers suggested she trust the law one more time.
Xu Liping , one of Tang's lawyers, said the court was likely to set a hearing date in another two weeks but admitted it would be a hard case to win.
"It would be a simple case in a place ruled by law, but here there are many factors disturbing the normal functions of the rule of law," Xu said. "Every legal department in Yongzhou played a role in detaining Tang, so it is hard for them to correct themselves."
Tang's case led to intense debate about the mainland's notorious labour camp system, which can see petitioners detained without trial.
She was released from the labour camp after receiving massive support from the media, which she said had a very big impact on her discharge, especially when the local government tried to cover up the case.
The local government had long regarded Tang as a nuisance after she petitioned in Beijing two dozen times, and twice that number in Hunan's capital Changsha following her daughter's abduction and rape in 2006.
Mainland media said the local authorities had spent more than a million yuan sending teams of officials to shadow her and intercept her petitions.
Wei Xuanjun , the former mayor of Yongzhou who was recently promoted to Communist Party chief of Loudi , another Hunan city, told reporters at the National People's Congress in March that Tang was using petitions as a way to make money.
Tang was sent to the labour camp for demanding tougher verdicts for the men who had raped her daughter, who was just 11 at the time. Officials said her protests upset social stability. Seven men kidnapped her, raped her and held her at an underground brothel before she was tracked down and saved by Tang three months later.
Last year, two of her daughter's abductors were executed, four received life terms and one was sentenced to 15 years. Tang said others were involved but never brought to justice.
"I am not appealing just for the compensation," Tang said. "It will be of help to my poor family but it's really not a lot of money. The main reason for my appeal is to prove my innocence."
Additional reporting by Wu Nan