The Judicial Yuan on Friday held its first outdoor mock trial as part of its efforts to publicize the new citizen judge system.
The mock trial held in front of Tainan’s Madou Daitian Temple (麻豆代天府) featured three judges from the Tainan District Court, six citizen judges chosen from among local residents, and National Tseng-Wen Agricultural and Industrial High School students serving as prosecutors, the Judicial Yuan said in a statement.
Before the mock trial began, Judicial Yuan Secretary-General Lin Hui-huang (林輝煌) said that starting in 2023, most citizens will have the chance to be selected as a citizen judge, and that a series of mock trials is aimed at helping the public become familiar with the court process.
The case presented during Friday’s trial involved a neighbors’ quarrel that turned violent, with one party being stabbed by the other.
The prosecutors accused the defendant of attempted murder, while the defendant argued it was a case of assault.
The panel of judges found the defendant guilty of assault, handed down a suspended 10-month prison sentence, with a five-year probation period, and ordered the defendant to pay NT$300,000 (US$10,708) in compensation to the victim.
More mock trials are being planned for Aboriginal villages and rural areas, the Judicial Yuan said.
The 113-article National Judge Act (國民法官法) was passed by the legislature on July 22 as part of the government’s plan to introduce public participation in court trials, after several court decisions in recent years were criticized for not meeting public expectations.
The act, which takes effect in 2023, stipulates that citizen judges will work on cases involving homicides and offenses carrying a penalty of at least 10 years in jail at district courts, but would be limited to non-juvenile or non-drug related criminal trials.
Guilty verdicts or death sentences can only be handed down when six of the nine judges agree on them, including at least one professional judge.
All other sentences must be agreed upon by a majority of at least five of the nine judges, including one professional judge, the act states.
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