Early last month, a video clip of an address made by US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts at his son’s high-school commencement ceremony went viral.
“From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice ... and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion,” Roberts says in the clip.
His wishes for graduates to learn from their own frustrations are very unusual. They are also part and parcel of the concept of empathy, a skill invaluable to the judiciary.
If trials could be carried out with empathy and judges put themselves in others’ shoes to understand the parties involved and to solve disputes, then it would be possible for the public to trust the judicial system.
With trials by jury, the US judicial system allows people to participate, in order to avoid arbitrariness and lack of empathy from the judge, perhaps neglecting the important principle of the presumption of innocence, under which a suspect is considered innocent unless proven guilty. In some cases, judges try suspects and encounter unsavory characters on a daily basis, so it is sometimes difficult for them to maintain the presumption of innocence.
However, according to an opinion poll published by National Chung Cheng University last year, as many as 84 percent of Taiwanese do not trust judges — a state of affairs difficult to imagine in a democratic nation. At this critical moment in Taiwan’s judicial reform, the key to success lies in empathy toward the public.
Whether it is the US jury system or Japan’s lay judge system, their purpose is to create opportunities for people to participate in trials with empathy.
At the sixth meeting of the judicial reform preparatory committee on Monday last week, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) declared four main areas for reform, including transparency of judicial proceedings, improving the selection and discipline of judges and prosecutors, and the establishment of a system of civic participation in the judicial process, all of which are necessary to rebuild public trust in the judicial system.
Facing the judges and prosecutors, who are in general considered to be “the winners at the game of life,” the public concern should keep track of the policies related to rebuilding the judicial empathy.
Huang Di-ying is a lawyer and deputy director-general of the Taiwan Forever Association.
Translated by Lin Lee-kai
It is a good time to be in the air-conditioning business. As my colleagues at Bloomberg News write, an additional 1 billion cooling units are expected to be installed by the end of the decade. It is one of the main ways in which humans are adapting to more frequent and intense heatwaves. With a potentially strong El Nino on the horizon — a climate pattern that increases global temperatures — and greenhouse gas emissions still higher than ever, the world is facing another record-breaking summer, and another one, and another and so on. For many, owning an air conditioner has become a
Election seasons expose societal divisions and contrasting visions about the future of Taiwan. They also offer opportunities for leaders to forge unity around practical ideas for strengthening Taiwan’s resilience. Beijing has in the past sought to exacerbate divisions within Taiwan. For Beijing, a divided Taiwan is less likely to pursue permanent separation. It also is more manipulatable than a united Taiwan. A divided polity has lower trust in government institutions and diminished capacity to solve societal challenges. As my co-authors Richard Bush, Bonnie Glaser, and I recently wrote in our book US-Taiwan Relations: Will China’s Challenge Lead to a Crisis?, “Beijing wants
Taiwanese students spend thousands of hours studying English. Yet after three to five class-hours of English as a foreign language every week for more than nine years, most students can barely utter a sentence of English. The government’s “Bilingual Nation 2030” policy would do little to change this. As artificial intelligence (AI) technologies would soon be able to translate in real time, why should students squander so much of their youth and potential on learning a foreign language? AI might save students time, but it should not replace language learning. Instead, the technology could amplify learning, and it might also enhance
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has nominated New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) as its candidate for next year’s presidential election. The selection process was replete with controversy, mainly because the KMT has never stipulated a set of protocols for its presidential nominations. Yet, viewed from a historical perspective, the KMT has improved to some extent. There are two fundamental differences between the KMT and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP): First, the DPP believes that the Republic of China on Taiwan is a sovereign country with independent autonomy, meaning that Taiwan and China are two different entities. The KMT, on the