Tue, Jan 07, 2020 - Page 3 News List

2020 Elections: Association urges change to jury system

VOTING STRATEGY:The Taiwan Jury Association said it would post a list of parties and candidates who signed its petition and asked people to vote for those on it

By Hsieh Chun-lin and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Election candidates and representatives of political parties attend a news conference organized by the Taiwan Jury Association in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Hsieh Chun-lin, Taipei Times

A petition calling for the implementation of a jury system was signed by eight political parties and 88 legislative candidates, the Taiwan Jury Association said at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

The public wants a jury system and its implementation should be the focus of judicial reform, said the association, which initiated the petition, adding that members of the public should vote on Saturday for parties and candidates who express support for the change.

Parties that have shown clear support for a jury system are the United Action Alliance, the People First Party, the New Power Party, the Formosa Alliance, the Taiwan Action Party Alliance, the Interfaith Union, the Taiwan Solidarity Union and the Taiwan Renewal Party, the association said.

Legislators from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), as well as several independent lawmakers, have also expressed support for a jury system and have signed the petition, the association said.

The professional judge and lay judge system introduced by the current administration is fraught with problems, it said.

Although lay judges could discuss criminal charges and prison terms with professional judges, there is a risk that defendants would become “guinea pigs,” association president Wu Ching-chin (吳景欽) said.

Professional judges have authority over lay judges, so they can interfere with their discussions, but lay judges ultimately need to decide the length of prison terms, which is a complicated matter that they should not be burdened with, Wu said.

Wu also expressed concern that suggestions for judicial reform from legislators across party lines were being ignored and that they were not given a chance to implement tests of their suggestions.

The petition was sent to the DPP, which said that it would “continue to listen to the will of the people and reform policy,” the association said.

The association said it would post the DPP’s response, as well as the list of parties and legislators who signed the petition, on Facebook and asked people to support those on the list.

Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), former minister of transportation and communications Kuo Yao-chi (郭瑤琪) and Hsiao Ming-yao (蕭明岳) — who is serving a life sentence for a drug conviction — are the three most high-profile cases of people being wrongly convicted, Taiwan Action Party Alliance spokesman Tsan Hsiang-wei (詹祥威) said.

Prosecutors in those cases used coarse evidence and improper judicial procedures, but they would never have proceeded had there been a jury system in place, Tsan said.

Judicial reform was a campaign promise of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), he said, adding that she should implement a jury system immediately.

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