Tue, Jan 07, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Judge, prosecutor review systems panned

CHANGE FOR THE WORSE:In the decade before the act’s passage, an average of 3.7 judges and 4.3 prosecutors were disciplined a year, but the numbers are fewer today

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

A member of the Judicial Reform Foundation impersonates a traditional Chinese doctor during a press conference with legislators in Taipei yesterday, calling attention to faults in the review system for judges and prosecutors.

Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times

The review system for judges and prosecutors has failed to live up to the public’s expectations, the Judicial Reform Foundation and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) said yesterday, two years after the systems were put in place.

The Judges’ Act (法官法) passed its third legislative reading exactly two years ago, allowing for the establishment of two committees — the Judge Evaluation and Prosecutor Evaluation committees — sitting under the Judicial Yuan, which would handle complaints against judicial personnel.

“However, after a thorough assessment, we found at least five serious flaws with the system,” Yu told a press conference.

“It has failed to do its job of handing down appropriate disciplinary measures against incompetent judges and prosecutors,” Yu added.

In the 10 years before the passage of the act, an average of 3.7 judges and 4.3 prosecutors were disciplined every year, according to the foundation’s data.

Over the past two years, only five judges and five prosecutors have been impeached by the Control Yuan with five judges and prosecutors punished by theCourt of Judicial Discipline.

Yu and the foundation concluded that the shortening of the maximum statute of limitation from 10 years to two years and — more particularly — constant governmental interference have contributed to this underachievement.

One example of interference was the case of former Prosecutor Evaluation Committee member Peng Wen-cheng (彭文正) — a professor from National Taiwan University’s Graduate Institute of Journalism — who was not given a second term on the committee after he took a leading role in the committee’s recommendation that Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) be dismissed, the foundation said.

Other flaws in the system included its lack of personnel, the problems it has investigating cases and both committees’ opaque review processes, the foundation said.

Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌), a foundation member and a research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institutum Iurisprudentiae, said that the passiveness of the committees came from a lack of full-time personnel.

As a result, they have only been able to handle cases referred by the foundation and have failed to actively launch investigations on cases.

Yu said she would submit a draft amendment of the Judges’ Act, in an attempt to extend the statute of limitation, increase manpower on the committees and reduce the number of members selected from the judicial establishment.

Both committees currently consist of 11 members, including seven chosen from judges, prosecutors or practicing lawyers, along with four experts or academics to represent public interests.

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