Lawyers yesterday stood up in support of grand justices after lawmakers from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) proposed to cut their paychecks in retaliation for ruling that the March 19 Shooting Truth Investigation Special Committee Statute is partially unconstitutional.
The Judicial Reform Foundation (民間司法改革基金會), the Taipei Bar Association, the Taiwan Bar Association, the Taiwan Law Society (台灣法學會) and the Taipei Society (澄社) jointly held a press conference yesterday to express support for the grand justices. It was an unusual move, as the groups are more frequently critics of the judicial system and its personnel, including judges and law clerks.
The lawyers' action came after the KMT-PFP alliance proposed on Tuesday during a legislative meeting that its lawmakers veto a budget proposal for grand justices. In addition, KMT-PFP lawmakers also said they would consider removing a "professional bonus" paid to grand justices.
The lawmakers said that they were planning to do so as a political punishment because the justices ruled that the March 19 Shooting Truth Investigation Special Committee Statute is partially unconstitutional.
According to the Judicial Yuan, the monthly salary for a grand justice is NT$179,520, plus a "professional bonus" of NT$89,325.
"KMT Lawmaker Tseng Yung-chuan (
According to Taiwan Law Society Secretary-General and Ming Chuan University Associate Law Professor Chen In-chin (陳英鈐), the lawmakers also said that the grand justices are not carrying out their jobs as "judges" so they should not enjoy the "professional bonus."
"This is ridiculous," Chen said. "They are ruling on cases [as judges], although we call their verdicts interpretation articles to the Constitution. In addition, a grand justice cannot be nominated as a grand justice if she or he is not a qualified judge."
Chen said the most important thing for judges is to maintain their independence and that the bonus helped to do this by recognizing their efforts.
"Paying grand justices a professional bonus somehow assures the independence of their positions," the law professor said.
In addition to reducing grand justices' paychecks, KMT-PFP lawmakers are also planning to reduce the budget for the Taiwan High Court's Black Gold Investigation Center (
In response, the Prosecution Reform Union (民間檢察制度改革聯盟) released a statement saying that the union is "ashamed of what certain lawmakers are planning to do."
"According to our inside sources, the lawmakers want to do this because the center has more than once investigated certain lawmakers for potential involvement in bribery-related cases," the statement read.