Fri, Nov 19, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Enough already with the litigation

By Howard Shyr石世豪

Everyone knows that of the infinite number of conflicts we encounter in life, only a very small number are suitable for resolution through the judicial system.

Anyone who has ever had any experience of law courts will also know that judges are not gods and that the courts are not an antiseptic operating room in which society can be dissected, and the process that leads to a judicial judgement does not have the unlimited scope of academic debate. After all, when two parties meet in court, their spirited argumentation only aims to achieve victory as soon as possible.

Anyone who puts their hope of victory in the courts knows that before their case came to trial, many other cases were heard, and many others who have hoped for victory have long since gone home.

To put it simply, although justice is priceless, the process through which we seek justice is an extremely limited resource. No one should be more aware of this than Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), whose dispute over the validity of the March 20 presidential election and its result has been brought to court.

After all, they have served in public life for many decades. And even if they aren't aware of this, their legal team should be aware of it. But we can see from statements made by the plaintiffs after the Taiwan High Court rejected their case that they have absolutely no understanding of this, and in the meantime abuse the courts for not doing their job, while insisting that they will appeal the judgement.

Let's ignore for the moment what this endless "extra time" on the presidential election has done to the blue camp's hopes in next month's legislative election, and look at what this "big" case has done to the many ordinary people thirsting for justice.

Reports have shown that just the re-examination of ballots cost a total of NT$77 million, of which the plaintiffs paid only NT$17 million.

As for the NT$60 million incurred by the High Court case, the plaintiffs only paid a NT$3,000 judgement fee.

In addition, this case has involved 3,000 government officials and administrative personnel, and both the plaintiffs and the government hired hundreds of lawyers to participate in the re-examination of the ballots, not to mention the innumerable alternative service personnel, doctors and others who have been summoned as witnesses.

Both parties also formed extensive legal teams and the case used up the time of three High Court judges for months on end in writing up a judgement that is hundreds of pages thick. The resources brought to bear on this one case could have brought justice to innumerable others who have cases pending before the courts.

Moreover, on the request of the plaintiffs, the courts sealed every single ballot box and preserved the electoral records and electoral receipts.

If these resources had been used for regular legal proceedings, how many people could have already found justice?

But these precious resources have been wantonly squandered on the case to invalidate the results of the March 20 presidential election.

As for the plaintiffs, the NT$17 million they were required pay for the recount was borne largely by some of their supporters, and though this was an opportunity to gather evidence for a case to invalidate the election itself, they will still be unable to win the election through the courts.

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