Civil groups yesterday joined the Taiwan Jury Association and the New Power Party (NPP) in opposing the Judicial Yuan’s proposed “lay judge system” bill, instead calling for a jury system, which they said would curtail corruption, so-called “dinosaur judges” and political interference.
Attorney Jerry Cheng (鄭文龍), former association director, criticized the Judicial Yuan and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party for promoting a bill for the lay judge system, which the Executive Yuan approved last month, and could become law after a third reading and legislative vote later this year.
If passed, it would be scheduled for implementation by 2023.
Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
Cheng called the bill “fake judicial reform,” saying that it made a false promise to allow citizen participation in the judicial system.
“The jury system allows true citizen participation in the courts. It is the primary system for justice worldwide, and is used in 52 nations, including the US and the UK. Hong Kong has used it for more than 160 years, and South Korea adopted it in 2008,” Cheng said.
The Judicial Yuan’s version of the bill allows citizens to serve as lay judges and work alongside professional judges in criminal trials, but Cheng said that this kind of modified framework has only been adopted for use in Japan.
The new system is akin to “assembling wolves and rabbits together, and what will happen is that the wolves will eat the rabbits... Therefore the opinions and viewpoints of ordinary citizens would disappear in such a setting,” Cheng said.
“The lay judge system is full of deficiencies, and if the bill is passed, it would harm Taiwan’s justice system,” he said, adding that the jury system “has proven its worth, has supporting mechanisms, and jury trials have been shown to be more effective and fair.”
NPP caucus whip Chiu Hsien-chi (邱顯智), Taiwan Society chairman Chang Yeh-sen (張葉森), Northern Taiwan Society chairman Li Chuan-hsin (李川信) and association deputy chairman Chang Ching (張靜) also spoke at the event.
In a statement, the association said that the justice system is afflicted with “major diseases,” including corruption and “dinosaur judges,” referring to judges that are out of touch with society.
“That is why the public hopes to see real judicial reform, but the lay judge system would permit the judges to hold on to their power,” it said.
“If the Judicial Yuan forces through the bill, then the judiciary and criminal prosecution system would face a severe crisis in the future,” it added.
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