Sun, Dec 26, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Cheng a model high court judge

PRINCIPLED Although she is a vocal supporter of the blue camp, Taiwan High Court Judge Cheng said the nation's judicial system went beyond simple partisanship

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan High Court presiding Judge Cheng Ya-ping (鄭雅萍) will hand down the verdict this Thursday on whether the presidential election nine months ago was in fact legitimate.

The pan-blue camp-driven case has been heard by Cheng and her colleagues Wu Mo-yen (吳謀焰) and Yu Hui-chun (俞慧君). The three judges have heard arguments in court since May 5.

The pan-blue alliance filed two lawsuits on behalf of its presidential candidates -- Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) -- almost immediately after the March 20 presidential poll, as they refused to accept defeat and acknowledge that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) won re-election.

The lawsuit, which alleges vote fraud took place and to which Cheng will render a verdict on Thursday, was the second of two lawsuits filed by the blue camp. The first suit sought to annul Chen's re-election, and on Nov. 4, Taiwan High Court Judge Wu Ching-yuan (吳景源) ruled against the plaintiff, assuring Chen's and Lu's re-election victory.

Cheng's husband, attorney Liu Shu-lun (劉緒倫) is a member of the New Party. In addition, he has been defense counsel for several pan-blue figures, such as Ding Shou-chung (丁守中), Hsieh Chang-chieh (謝章捷) and Yu Mu-ming (郁慕明).

Yu's husband, attorney Lu Jung-hai (呂榮海), is also a pan-blue supporter and has backed a newspaper advertisement which said that the referendum held in tandem with the presidential election was illegal.

However, Cheng remained neutral during the court proceedings. She even expressed disappointment with the pan-blue camp's lawyers during the first hearing on May 5.

"According to the vague indictment you presented, obviously, you did not try your best," Cheng said to the blue camp's legal team while presiding over the case.

"A lawsuit is not about complaining in court. It is about trying to persuade judges with strong arguments," Cheng said at the time.

She also said the blue camp's arguments were not clear and its attorneys failed to provide sufficient evidence to support their arguments.

"If you are angry, you will not be able to come up with a good argument," she told the blue camp's lawyers.

Prior to the May 5 hearings, Cheng complained about a Chinese-language newspaper report which claimed she and her fellow judges were biased in favor of the pan-blue camp. After the report, Cheng asked the lawyers of either side if they wanted to apply for new judges based on the allegations, but the lawyers said it was not necessary.

Ironically, Cheng, Wu and Yu were assigned to hear the case after the objectivity of the original judges was called into question.

Citing her Christian beliefs, Cheng said that those in the legal profession, whether they are judges, prosecutors, lawyers or court clerks, should try their best to deal with cases without passion or bias. "My job as a judge is to preside over every case as fairly as possible," she said.

Possessing a law degree from the National Taiwan University's Law School and a bachelor's degree from Soochow University, Cheng has devoted herself to the court system ever since she passed the national exam for judicial officials in 1979.

Unlike others who aspired to a legal profession out of a sense of justice, Cheng admitted she did not initially want to study law.

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