Mon, Jan 13, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Judicial chief put on the defensive over `lazy judges'

INEFFICIENCY With frustration growing over the delays in reaching verdicts in cases of `black gold,' the head of the Judicial Yuan has been forced to come to the aid of judges

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

TAIPEI TIMES FILE PHOTO

Judicial Yuan Secretary-General Yang Jen-shou (楊仁壽) has been busy recently defending his judges from accusations by the Ministry of Justice that they are lazy and have been delaying cases.

While the complaints are not new, Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan (陳定南) reignited the dispute between the ministry and Judicial Yuan by using a press conference last month to rail against judicial inefficiency.

Chen's frustration was sparked by newly elected Kaohsiung City Council Speaker Chu An-hsiung (朱安雄), whose forgery and breach of trust case had stalled in court while he was getting involved in a recent vote-buying scandal. He had been indicted in 2000 but the courts did not hold the first pre-trial hearing until last Friday. Chen used this as an example of what happens when indicted suspects are not appropriately and promptly punished.

Chu and his wife, Wu Te-mei (吳德美), allegedly withdrew NT$22.7 billion from the An Feng Group (安峰集團) -- of which Chu is president -- pocketing the money for private purposes. Kaohsiung prosecutors' indictment listed the charges as forging legal documents and breach of trust and requested a seven-year prison term for each of them.

According to the court, pros-ecutors have submitted an exceptionally large volume of evidence and witness statements to judges, which will take some time to review.

Yang backed up the explanation provided by Kaohsiung judges.

"I do not understand why the minister would believe that judges have been lazy," Yang said. "I mean, he is the justice minister and the nation's top law-enforcement officer. He is supposed to understand the legal process better than anyone else."

"For Chu's document-forging case the court received 30 huge piles of documentation, including interrogation records, witnesses' statements and so on. They will need a long time to review all these. I believe and would assure you that most judges are working very hard -- instead of being lazy, like the minister accused them of being," Yang said.

However, Yang also admitted that some judges are lazy.

"Currently, we are investigating those judges who were suspected of being lazy and trying to collect as much evidence as possible. When the time is right, we will either ask them to leave or come up with proper punishment," Yang said.

Yang, who turns 61 next month, has served as the secretary-general and the spokesman of the Judicial Yuan since 1999.

Before that, he was president of the Taiwan High Court from 1997 to 1999, president of the Taiwan High Court Kaohsiung Branch from 1996 to 1997, and president of the Taoyuan District Court, Panchiao District Court, Kaohsiung District Court and Taipei District Court from 1990 to 1997.

After he graduated from the Law Department of the National Taiwan University with a bachelor's degree in 1964, Yang began his career as a prosecutor at Kinmen District Prosecutors' Office after passing the national exam for judicial officials in 1967.

He received his graduate degree from the Law School of Chinese Culture University in 1972, when he was a judge at the Taipei District Court.

In addition to his current role as Judicial Yuan spokesman, Yang is also in charge of organizing regular press conferences for the Council of Grand Justices every few weeks.

"It is my job to let the public know what grand justices' interpretation of the articles to the Constitution are and update our people with the latest progress we have made regarding judicial reform, which we have been working on for more than three years," he said.

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