Lawmakers yesterday in an extraordinary legislative session began reviewing the Judicial Yuan’s proposed bill for citizen participation in criminal court procedures and passed a second reading to rename the proposed “citizen participation in criminal trial procedures act” to the proposed “national judge act.”
The proposed lay judge system would comprise three professional judges and six citizen judges, and operate on a “joint deliberation and joint ruling” model.
Lawmakers later in a 54-18 vote approved a motion raised by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus to continue the review meeting until midnight.
Earlier yesterday, the Judicial Yuan released a survey that showed most people were in favor of a lay judge system.
According to the poll, 72.91 percent of respondents agreed that having citizens discuss criminal trials with judges could result in verdicts that are consistent with the law and that meet people’s expectations, Judicial Yuan President Hsu Tzong-li (許宗力) said, adding that more than 80 percent approved of having professional judges attend final deliberations to decide on a ruling.
More than 94 percent of respondents said that in criminal trials using a lay judge system, the ruling should provide the reason for the verdict, while 97 percent said defendants should have the right to appeal rulings, he added.
Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
“The survey shows that a large majority of the public supports citizens working together with judges under the ‘joint deliberation and joint ruling’ model. In comparison, typical jury systems in principle do not allow appeals, and have no requirement to submit reasons for the verdict,” Hsu said.
“There is no perfect way, nor a most advanced judicial system. The one that can best adapt to our native environment and judicial framework, which comes closest to fulfilling people’s expectations ... is the Judicial Yuan’s lay judge system, which right now is best suited to the nation’s needs and the public’s demands,” he added.
The survey was conducted by the ERA Survey Research Center from July 10 to Tuesday last week. It collected 1,074 valid responses and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
However, another survey released yesterday by a group of legal reform advocates showed that 81.9 percent were in favor of a jury system, 63.2 percent supported a lay judge system and 83.4 percent backed a “twin track” proposal.
The survey was conducted by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation on Monday and Tuesday last week. It gathered 1,078 valid responses and has a margin of error of 2.98 percentage points.
“The DPP government repealed its party charter by excluding the jury system and ran contrary to the prevailing views of Taiwanese. We hope lawmakers will not pass [the proposal’s] third reading,” Judicial Reform Foundation chairman Lin Yung-sung (林永頌) told a news conference.
The survey results released by the Judicial Yuan “looked like a paid promotion,” Lin said.
“The DPP often uses extraordinary legislative session to deal with major bills, as no subcommittee meetings or public hearings are held, with only lawmakers voting. This is the ruling party’s arrogance and the majority bullying the minority in the legislature,” Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Lin Wei-chou (林為洲) told the same news conference.
Taiwan People’s Party Legislator Jang Chyi-lu (張其祿), who also attended the news conference, accused the DPP of using “violence of majority vote” to run roughshod over opposition parties.
“Taiwanese have pursued a jury system for more than a century. We hope the DPP can stop its actions, as it should not force through a bill during the current session without a full deliberation process,” New Power Party caucus whip Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智) said.
Additional reporting by Hsieh Chun-lin
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