Wed, Mar 20, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Association pans planned combined judicial system

‘DANGEROUS’:The Judicial Yuan copied pieces of the judicial systems in Germany, Japan and the US to create a system using ‘pure imagination,’ the association said

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan Jury Association chairman Wu Ching-chin, second right, and others attend a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times

The Taiwan Jury Association yesterday opposed a plan by the Judicial Yuan to combine the jury system and the lay judge system, saying that introducing an unprecedented fusion of the two systems could be dangerous.

The government should implement a jury system instead of creating a “collage of inherently different systems using pure imagination,” the association said in a statement.

Local Chinese-language media on Sunday reported that the Judicial Yuan had decided to replace its proposal to introduce a lay judge system at the nation’s criminal courts with the combined system.

In the original proposal, which is similar to the lay judge system in Japan, each case would be tried by three professional judges and six lay judges, reports said.

For a defendant to be found guilty, two-thirds, or six judges, including at least one professional judge, must vote in favor of the guilty verdict, they said.

The Judicial Yuan is leaning toward the combined system, which is close to a jury system, to appease jury system advocates, the reports said.

The new proposal divides criminal proceedings into two phases.

The first phase would be presided over by eight lay judges. For a defendant to be found guilty, all eight must unanimously agree on the verdict.

The second phase would be presided over by three professional judges, who would decide whether to second the guilty verdict.

If at least one of them agrees with the verdict, the three would then decide the penalties to be meted out.

If no professional judges agree, the defendant would not be found guilty. In death penalty cases, all 11 judges would have to agree to the verdict.

At a news conference at the Legislative Yuan, association president Wu Ching-chin (吳景欽), an associate professor of law at Aletheia University, said that the combined system is likely “an unprecedented invention.”

It is neither a lay judge system nor a jury system, put together by copying bits and pieces of the criminal justice system in Japan, the US and Germany, he said.

“That is very dangerous, because in a way you are treating defendants as guinea pigs,” he said.

He likened the system to driving a self-assembled car, adding: “We cannot even imagine the consequences.”

The Judicial Yuan on Monday said it has from the beginning planned to introduce a criminal justice system combining the strengths of the lay judge and jury systems.

It is open to advice and hopes to build a criminal justice system that best suits the nation, the Judicial Yuan added.

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