The Taiwan Jury Association and other legal experts yesterday accused Judicial Yuan President Hsu Tzong-li (許宗力) of promoting “fake judicial reforms” by pushing a “lay judge system” instead of adopting a jury system.
Poll after poll has shown that Taiwanese have little trust in the nation’s justice system, “because most of them do not believe decisions made by judges are fair and impartial,” said attorney Jerry Cheng (鄭文龍), founder of the association.
They do not trust judges because they believe their judgements are influenced by politics and money — “two major problems that have long plagued Taiwan’s justice system,” Cheng told a news conference in Taipei.
Photo: Tu Chien-jung, Taipei Times
Cheng and other legal experts blasted Hsu’s presentation on Monday of a half-year progress report on the outcome of a national conference on judicial reform.
They questioned Hsu’s “positive” talk about judicial reforms, which he said have achieved a lot, with public trust in the justice system increasing.
“More than 80 percent of respondents in a poll want to participate in ruling on cases, and 95 percent of those who had taken part in simulated court sessions support adoption of a lay judge system,” Hsu said.
Association deputy chairman Chang Ching (張靜), a former prosecutor and judge, said that Hsu “misleads with fake news about the high support for [civilians] participating in rulings, because most respondents did not know if the Judicial Yuan was going for a lay judge system or a jury system. Hsu is deceiving everyone by blocking a jury system, which is what the public wants.”
“From our public polls over the past few years, which were conducted by universities, more than 80 percent of people support a jury system as a way of reforming Taiwan’s justice system,” Chang added.
Cheng said that in a lay judge system, the main decisionmaking power is still in the hands of a court judge, who can control the lay judge serving on the bench, “thereby opening up [the system] to political intervention and graft to influence judgements.”
Cheng cited as an example 2011, when the High Court caught four judges and one prosecutor for corruption.
Moreover, “while talking to my friends recently, I heard some of them discussing ways to offer bribes to judges. This shows that the problem of corrupt judges remains,” he said.
He added that “political intervention was very prevalent during the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) authoritarian regime, which meddled in the justice system,” he said.
“Former KMT leader and president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) personally intervened in about 3,000 rulings, according to findings by the Transitional Justice Commission,” he said.
Among the files and documents uncovered by the commission were handwritten messages by Chiang in 876 cases, in which he changed the rulings for dissidents and political prisoners from imprisonment to orders to “put them to death,” “execution by firing squad,” or to be “handed capital punishment.”
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