Sun, May 06, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Protesters call for jury system, decry ‘corrupt judges’

‘WAKE UP’:The protesters slammed the government for drafting a bill that ignored the 7-7 split vote between a jury system or citizen judges at the national congress

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Demonstrators calling for a jury system and judges with expertise in taxation raise their fists as they hold signs that read “Introduce a system to disqualify and retire unfit judges” in Taipei’s Liberty Square yesterday.

Photo: CNA

More than 1,000 people yesterday marched in Taipei to urge legislators to swiftly pass a bill that would introduce a jury system.

Demonstrators at 3pm congregated at Liberty Square, shouting slogans to call for civic participation in the judicial system and the removal of “corrupt judges” and “political hatchet men.”

Participants panned the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration’s reform plan, saying that it is attempting to push through a “citizen judge” system that they said would be a watered-down version of a real jury and would not help to prevent mistrials or unjust rulings.

The proposed citizen judge system favored by Judicial Yuan President Hsu Tsong-li (許宗力) would allow the opinion of three judges to override that of six jurors, allowing judges who take bribes or serve politics to continue these practices, attorney Jerry Cheng (鄭文龍) said.

A vote during the National Congress on Judicial Reform in August last year saw support for the citizen judge system and the jury system tied at seven votes each, Cheng said.

The citizen judge system would allow prosecutors to present evidence to lawyers representing plaintiffs and defendants in three stages after an indictment is made, which would leave the system open to misuse and draw out procedures, he said.

He slammed Hsu for proposing a draft bill that favors the citizen judge system and telling members of judicial reform groups that the system would be “exciting,” saying that Hsu’s move disregards public opinion and the result of the vote.

The bill has been approved by the Executive Yuan and was last year delivered to the Legislative Yuan, but has yet to advance to committee review, Taiwan Jury Association chairman and former judge Chang Ching (張靜) said.

Meanwhile, a bill drawn up by the Taiwan Jury Association, despite having advanced to committee review thanks to the efforts of DPP Legislator Tsai Yi-yu (蔡易餘), is in limbo after the conference ended in a stalemate, Chang said.

He criticized Hsu for saying that implementing a jury system would be more costly and require more adjustments to the justice system.

“Judicial reform should be groundbreaking. Establishing a jury system would serve as the locomotive of reform, as it would bring about sweeping changes in the system,” Chang said.

As public attention on reform is focused on criminal trials, the government should first introduce a jury system at such trials before deciding whether to apply it to civic and administrative trials, he said.

New Power Party (NPP) Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌), who accepted a petition from the demonstrators, said the NPP caucus during the last legislative session proposed a jury bill for criminal trials, but it was shelved.

Government actions to bring about judicial reform have been slow and disappointing, he added.

DPP Legislator Chen Man-li (陳曼麗), who also received a petition, said she supports implementing a jury system and believes it would benefit Taiwan, but that it would require more communication within the DPP caucus before the party’s stance on the issue becomes clear.

People First Party Legislator Chen Yi-chieh (陳怡潔) accepted a petition on behalf of her party.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) did not send any representatives to meet the demonstrators, who told the party to “wake up” and fulfill its responsibility as the largest opposition party.

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