Thu, Jul 28, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Judicial reform council approves quasi-jury system

Staff Writer, with CNA

A majority of members of the Policy Council of National Judicial Reform on Tuesday approved the use of a quasi-jury system.

Their proposal allows for citizen panels to advise judges during death penalty and life sentence cases.

The Judicial Yuan will begin drafting a bill on implementing the policy.

If the bill is approved by both the Executive Yuan and the legislature, the Chiayi District Court and the Shilin District Court will be the testing grounds for the new system.

The Judicial Yuan began mulling the possibility of jury duty earlier this year as a means of increasing the public’s trust in the judicial system.

It held 10 meetings with academics from Germany, Japan and South Korea, who discussed their countries’ experiences in adopting quasi-jury systems.

The motion was sent to the council for review yesterday and most councilors were positive about the quasi-jury system, Judicial Yuan Secretary-General Lin Ching-fang (林錦芳) said.

However, some councilors suggested mock trials should be held first to ascertain the potential problems of adopting such a system.

The Judicial Yuan’s proposal envisions a lottery system whereby citizens aged 23 years or older, with at least a high school education, would be chosen to sit on a five-person panel alongside three judges.

Jury members would deliberate the facts and then give the judges their views.

With the judges’ permission, panel members would be able to ask defendants and witnesses questions.

Although the judges would be responsible for the final ruling in a case, if they disagree with the jury’s recommendation, they would need to note their reason for not adopting it.

Legal experts have criticized the Judicial Yuan’s jury proposal because it would not give jurors the right to cast deciding votes.

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