Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers yesterday questioned the legality of what they said was the "leaking" of a judge's dissenting opinion on a recent ruling that annulled Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu's (陳菊) victory in last December's mayoral election.
They made the accusation based on article 103 of the Law of the Court Organization (法院組織法), which bans disclosure of judges' deliberations before a final verdict.
"Given the regulations, why was a dissenting opinion of the ruling made public? We are working to find out who leaked the information," KMT Legislator Kuo Su-chun (郭素春) told reporters.
The court on Friday ruled in favor of KMT candidate Huang Chun-ying (黃俊英), who accused his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) rival Chen Chu of violating campaign regulations.
Preceding Judge Huang Hung-chin (黃宏欽) and another judge agreed that the election should be invalidated because of the vote-buying accusation made against Huang by Chen's camp on the eve of the election -- when all campaigning activities were supposed to have ceased.
Ku Chen-hui (古振暉), the other judge in charge of the lawsuit, did not support the decision and expressed his doubts about the ruling's legality in a six-page footnote attached to the ruling.
"Someone has to take responsibility [for leaking Ku's dissenting opinions]. We will look into the matter to find out whether the mastermind was somebody at the Kaohsiung District Court or Judicial Yuan President Weng Yueh-sheng (翁岳生)," Kuo said.
KMT legislative caucus whip Hsu Shao-ping (徐少萍) said that the DPP would use Ku's dissenting opinion as an appeal to voters that Chen had suffered judicial repression.
Tu Yu-tou (涂裕斗), spokesman for the Kaohsiung District Court, said yesterday it was the court itself that decided to make Ku's opposition public, and that the Judicial Yuan did not know about the matter before the ruling was released.
He said if the court's action was later found to have violated the law, the court should take responsibility for it.
Tu added in this case, because the three judges failed to reach a consensus on the verdict, the court decided to include Ku's opinion by attaching the footnote.
Meanwhile, Huang Chun-ying yesterday slammed President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) criticism of the ruling.
"His intention to influence the second trial is very obvious," he told reporters.
"As the leader of the nation, I think it was very inappropriate for him to allege that the judiciary was not impartial. He set a bad example for Taiwanese democratic education," Huang Chun-ying said. "My lawyers and I will discuss whether we should take further action."
In the president's defense, Chen Chu said the president and she both respected the judiciary, but the judges' ruling should also be put under public scrutiny.
The president was only offering his opinion from a professional perspective and there was nothing inappropriate, she said when answering reporters' questions during a visit to a children's home.
"The president would not interfere with the judiciary, nor is he capable of intervening," she said. "The judges in charge of the case will not change their ruling because the president has said something."
When asked for comments on Huang Chun-ying's argument that the vote-buying was the doing of his supporters and had nothing to do with him, Chen Chu said if this logic held true, then the judges should have applied the same logic and not regarded her as the "culprit" for a press conference held by her staffers on the eve of the election.
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