Mon, Nov 16, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Reform proponents urge weeding out unsuitable judges

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Legal experts and Judicial Reform Foundation members are urging the Ministry of Justice to improve monitoring and evaluation mechanisms and find ways of phasing out unsuitable judges whose conduct on the bench has been questionable, so that the public’s faith in a fair and independent judiciary system can be restored.

“It is important to have a justice system that can be trusted by the public to impartially handle all cases. Throughout the trial process, the attitude and conduct of the judges is very important,” said Lin Yung-sung (林永頌), chairman of the foundation’s board.

The foundation last week presented its annual report on judges’ conduct in the courts, which focuses on 24 judges who have been the subject of the most complaints — for their “contemptuous attitude, insulting remarks and overbearing conduct in court” — and is based on observers the foundation sent to watch 267 court hearings and cross-examination sessions over the past year.

“Since our nation instituted the Judges Act (法官法) in 2011, despite some improvements, we still receive frequent complaints from the public that judges conduct themselves in court in a haughty manner, speaking to plaintiffs and defendants condescendingly,” Lin said.

Foundation chief executive Kao Jung-chih (高榮志) urged the ministry to take concrete action.

“We wish to see the ministry carry out an annual evaluation. Those judges and prosecutors found to be unsuited to their jobs should be gradually phased out of the judicial system,” Kao said.

The ministry and the Judicial Yuan need to implement effective monitoring mechanisms to improve judges’ conduct, and enhance the quality and impartiality of the judicial process by conducting assessments through the Judge Evaluation Committee and Prosecutorial Evaluation Committee, he said.

“We also ask the ministry and the Judicial Yuan not to block a draft bill presented by legal reform organizations and civic groups to amend the Judges Act, which would strengthen the monitoring and evaluating functions of the act. We urge legislators to pass the bill in the near future,” Kao said.

Of the 24 judges highlighted in the report, four were cited by the foundation’s court observers as abusive in their conduct and for manipulating trial procedures.

The foundation recommended that the Judge Evaluation Committee conduct an urgent review of them.

The four appeared unable to contain their emotions when presiding over trial hearings and were found frequently to sound off with insulting language, displaying personal bias, expressing anger and contempt against defendants and lawyers, as well as “abusing the presiding judge’s control of court proceedings,” according to the observers.

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