Nearly 80 percent of the public prefer a lay judge system over a jury system, a survey conducted by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) showed.
The DPP has come under fire for not including a proposed jury system on the agenda for legislative talks on judicial reform, despite the party’s charter calling for a jury system. It has instead pushed for a lay judge system, which was initially proposed by the Judicial Yuan.
Although the Judicial Yuan has called the proposed bill the “citizen participation in criminal trial procedures act,” the DPP caucus proposed naming it the “national judge act,” removing words such as “participation,” which it says might not fit the final language of the bill.
Photo: Su Fun-her, Taipei Times
The survey, released on Sunday, showed that 78.2 percent of respondents support a “national judge system,” while only 19.2 percent support a jury system.
The poll also showed that 72.2 percent agree with President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) push to have members of the public take part in trials, while 19.3 percent said they disagree.
The survey showed that, on the basis that in a national judge system, the judges would be required to justify their rulings, and fact-finding can be appealed, whereas in a jury system the jury does not have to state reasons for their ruling nor can fact-finding be appealed, 80 percent said they support a national judge system, while 14.7 percent said they support a jury system.
The majority, or 56.7 percent, also disagree that lay judges would have too much authority, while 36.8 percent agree that they would have too much authority, the survey showed.
Asked if they agree that juries might be a waste of resources because they have to be disbanded and a new jury formed when members could not reach a consensus, 74.4 percent of respondents said yes, while 21.5 percent said no.
On Sunday, the Judicial Yuan and the Ministry of Justice each issued a statement saying that the proposed national judge system was the most suitable of the two options for the nation, and urged the government not to implement both at the same time.
The national judge system represented an “evolution of the jury system,” the statement said.
Transplanting the jury system used in the US or the UK into Taiwan’s judiciary would create a human rights crisis for Taiwanese, it said.
The New Power Party, in support of a proposal by the Judicial Reform Foundation, yesterday submitted a motion at a cross-party caucus meeting calling for the implementation of a jury system in parallel with a lay judge system.
Opposing the motion, Saber Youth (劍青檢改) — a judicial independence advocacy group composed of young prosecutors — urged the DPP not to concurrently implement both systems, saying that doing so would result in a “judicial monster.”
The proposed lay judge system was formulated after four years of discussions involving judges and prosecutors, and looking at examples in Japan, the group said.
They had conducted 86 trial runs in mock court sessions and gathered a large amount of information in the process, it added.
The survey was conducted from Wednesday to Friday last week and collected 911 valid samples. It has a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.
Additional reporting by Chen Wei-tzu and Wen Yu-te
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