Mon, May 13, 2019 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Official says changes will aid judicial reform

The Judicial Yuan is promoting an amendment to the Judges Act that would provide an effective means to remove judges unsuitable for the job, Judicial Yuan Secretary-General Lu Tai-lang said in an interview with ‘Liberty Times’ (the sister newspaper of the ‘Taipei Times’) staff reporter Lin Ching-chuan

Judicial Yuan Secretary-General Lu Tai-lang gestures during an interview on May 2.

Photo: Huang Yao-cheng, Taipei Times

Liberty Times (LT): Can you describe what issues the Judicial Yuan’s proposed amendment to the Judges Act (法官法) addresses, aside from being a statement of intent for reforms?

Lu Tai-lang (呂太郎): The primary purpose of the draft amendment is to introduce a system — namely two organizations: the judges’ evaluation and assessment committee and the court of the judiciary — that would introduce more checks and counters to remove judges who are unsuitable for the job.

We hope the draft amendment will be passed at the Legislative Yuan during this session.

In theory, the committee would be tasked with investigating any allegations lodged against judges. In the current proposal, the committee would consist of three judges, one prosecutor, three lawyers and four individuals of upright and outstanding character, or academics.

In light of opinions that the committee should include more people, the draft submitted to be reviewed by the legislature would increase the number of academics or individuals to six.

Under current regulations, should a plaintiff or defendant feel that they have been unfairly treated in court, they have no viable channel for recourse. The only way to apply for an investigation into a judge would require mediation between organizations such as the Taiwan Bar Association or the Judicial Reform Foundation.

The issue was brought up repeatedly during the National Congress on Judicial Reform held by the Presidential Office in 2017 as something that did not make sense.

To address such issues, the draft includes a clause that both plaintiff and defendant alike could ask the committee to launch an investigation. This should allow questionable or controversial incidents in court to be brought to the committee’s attention.

To prevent either party in a legal dispute from using the system to achieve certain objectives, there would be filtering mechanics built into the system to prevent the committee from being flooded with requests and thus grinding to a halt.

Pending the result of the committee’s investigation, if a judge is found to have erred, but only in a minor sense, they would be given certain penalties by the Judicial Yuan.

According to the draft, the Judicial Yuan can issue to the Control Yuan a recall complaint for judges. If accepted and processed, the former judge would have to attend the court of the judiciary, which would mete out its punishment.

Which brings us to the second point of our draft: the introduction of the court of the judiciary. As it is currently planned, judges at the court of the judiciary would be selected from all circuits.

To address concerns that this might lead to judges covering for each other and preventing true reform, two significant changes have been made to the draft amendments.

As it stands, the court of the judiciary would be unable to help, even with the intervention of the Control Yuan, should any case receive a definitive final ruling at the first trial.

To mitigate this, should the draft be approved, the court of the judiciary would be divided into first and second trials. Those in the court of the judiciary presiding over the first trial portion would be experienced judges with two academics or experts who are not judges.

The division of the judiciary would allow both parties in a legal dispute to apply directly for an investigation into a court case.

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