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.
Photo: Huang Yao-cheng, Taipei Times
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.
Inclusion of members of the public at the court committee and the court of the judiciary would greatly strengthen measures to remove unsuitable judges.
LT: How do you view opposition from the Judges’ Association regarding the Judicial Yuan’s amendments to the Judges Act?
Lu: The association’s opposition could stem from its views that either party in a legal dispute that goes to court could, by applying for an investigation, abuse such functions and bog down the judiciary system.
They need not be too concerned. We plan to allot more staff for the committee than is currently planned and these staff members would be tasked with filtering applications. Any cases that are evidently illegal or an abuse of the system, or make no sense at all, would be discarded.
Allowing both parties in a legal dispute to apply for an assessment would not infringe upon the independence of the judiciary. While the Judicial Yuan will uphold such independence, we must also have an established method to react to and handle alleged inappropriate or illegal actions by judges.
LT: A poll conducted earlier this year by National Chung Cheng University showed that more than 80 percent of respondents did not believe in the validity of judges’ rulings. What suggestions would you offer to the judiciary to reclaim the public’s trust?
Lu: There are other opinions regarding the poll among professional pollsters. The poll only asked one or two questions and was subsumed under the greater rubric of social safety.
However, the poll does reflect, on a certain level, the view of the public, and the Judicial Yuan will consider it a point of reference as we continue to better ourselves.
Over the past few years, judges’ lack of understanding of society, and in turn, the lack of understanding of the law by the public, have led to record low public trust in the judiciary.
To address this issue, the Judicial Yuan has made an effort to include the public in judicial processes.
If the average citizen could become a judge, they could bring their own emotions, experience and values to the table. On the other hand, they would, through participation in court procedures, understand that the determination of how an act is considered criminal is very meticulous.
Through such an experience, they would come to a new understanding of our judiciary system, thereby increasing their trust in the system.
Translated by staff writer Jake Chung
The Taipei Grand Mosque yesterday said its earlier decision to cancel Eid al-Fitr celebrations on Sunday to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan would stand, even though there have been no new domestic cases of COVID-19 in more than a month. It will be the first time in 60 years that the event has not be held at the mosque. The Ministry of Labor had asked all mosques to suspend Eid al-Fitr celebrations and prayers this year, due to COVID-19 concerns, and encouraged Muslims to pray at home. This year Ramadan began on April 23 and is to
KAOHSIUNG VOTE: A city official allegedly wrote a message calling on supporters of Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu not to participate in the vote next month Prosecutors on Wednesday initiated an investigation of Kaohsiung Civil Affairs Bureau Director-General Tsao Huan-jung (曹桓榮) for allegedly telling supporters of Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) to interfere with a recall vote against Han, while pan-green politicians denounced the mayor and his team for devising ways to obstruct voting. After receiving complaints from residents, the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors’ Office launched its probe of Tsao for alleged breaches of the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法). Complainants provided evidence that Tsao on Saturday last week wrote on messaging app Line that Han supporters should not vote in the June 6 recall vote, saying:
BILINGUAL ASSISTANCE: The center launched a chat bot that features Chinese and English interfaces to provide foreigners with instant information about the pandemic The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that it would discuss with other nations the possibility of allowing businesspeople to visit on a case-by-case basis. Asked about loosening border restrictions, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said at the daily CECC news briefing that while the center is cautious about opening the nation’s borders, it would aim to diminish obstacles for important trade interactions without risking transmission of the novel coronavirus. Several foreign representatives in Taiwan have expressed an interest in the matter and the center would conduct related negotiations with the help of the
DELUSIONAL: The male patient said he did not know that the woman had mental problems, but the court said that her being restrained in isolation should have given him pause The Taiwan High Court has ordered the Jhudong branch of the Taiwan National University Hospital and a male patient to jointly pay a former female patient’s family NT$400,000 in compensation after the man had sex with the woman, who has mental problems, while hospitalized. The 26-year-old woman has been diagnosed with a mental disorder, a symptom of which is that she obsessively seeks to have sex, her mother said. The mother filed a formal complaint and sought damages from the hospital and the male patient surnamed Chen (陳) after finding out that her daughter had sex with the man while