Judicial Reform Foundation
 

 WHAT'S NEW

 

 PRESS RELEASE and ANNOUNCEMENT

 

 OUR ACHIEVEMENT

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 PROJECTS

Judges Act
Ferret Out Malicious Prosecutors
The Public's Participation in Trials
Evaluation of Judges
Courtroom Observation
New Revision of 2002 Criminal Procedure Amendment
Law of Compensation for
Wrongful Detentions and Executions

Constitutional Interpretation Working Group
Partnerships

 

 CASES

HsiChih Trio Case
Hsu Tzu-chiang Case
Chiou Ho-shun Case
Chiang Kuo-ching Case

 

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 CHINESE VERSION

 

 LINKS

Taiwan Legal Aid Foundation
Taipei Bar Association
The Taiwan Law Blog
Taiwan Association for Human Rights
Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty
Amnesty International Taiwan


 

 PROJECTS


 

Judges Act

At 9pm on June 14, 2011, the Seventh Legislative Yuan finally passed the Judges Act at the Seventeenth meeting of its Seventh Session. Passage of the Judges Act had been pending for 23 years. The current law, however, is a product of highly politicized considerations and compromise. As such, the Act is far from ideal. JRF is collecting various news stories, official statements, and public commentaries in order to provide society with a public record to evaluate.

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Ferret Out Malicious Prosecutors

By reviewing “not guilty” verdicts from the Supreme Court to identify prosecutors who conduct improper or illegal investigations, JRF hopes to promote the evaluation of derelict prosecutors, ultimately leading to reform of the prosecutorial system.

  1. Analysis of "not guilty" verdicts by the Supreme Court: Team for Preliminary Analysis of Not Guilty Verdicts
  2. Seeking cases from the public:
    • In addition to the aforementioned research and analysis, JRF invites the public to share cases of improper prosecutorial conduct, including yelling at the defendants or witnesses, throwing things, using abusive or threatening language, falsifying transcripts, etc. As such, JRF began near the end of 2010 to vigorously solicit, collect, and investigate cases where the lawyers or parties believe that the prosecutor behaved improperly. JRF also organized attorney forums nationwide to explain and promote the project, as well as to collect additional cases and different opinions.
    • After accepting cases, the Team for Preliminary Analysis of Not Guilty Verdicts conducts an investigation. If they determine that the prosecutor has behaved problematically, the team then reports the matter to the Control Yuan or pushes for statutory revision.
    • Beginning from Volume 82, the Judicial Reform Journal created a column for the Pursuit of Malicious Prosecutors project, interviewing lawyers who are willing to share their experiences with bad prosecutors.

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The Public's Participation in Trials

Internationally, countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany have had trials by jury or mixed systems in place for centuries. Similarly, Hong Kong's jury system has also been in place for over a century. Other East Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan have also recently implemented forms of public participation in trials, which have been well-received. These developments have renewed interest in and serious contemplation of public participation in trials within Taiwanese society. JRF believes that a system of public participation in criminal trials will have many advantages:

  1. Gathering people of different backgrounds to participate in fact-finding allows for diverse perspectives, ensuring fairness/impartiality in the judicial process.
  2. Democratization of the judicial system to improve accessibility.
  3. Stronger protection for the people's right to a free and fair trial.
  4. Raising the general public's awareness and understanding of judicial affairs, fostering a sense of civic participation/citizenship, strengthening their sense of personal responsibility and critical thinking.
  5. Preventing judicial decisions that are out of touch with society by creating a decision-making process that engages and reflects different viewpoints and values. This also serves to check potential complacency and self-indulgence by a career judiciary.
  6. Making the judicial process/system more accessible to the general public by avoiding excessive or arcane jargon, thus enhancing the public's understanding and trust in the system.

Of course, the world has yet to see a perfect judicial system. Jury systems in the U.S., UK, France, etc. all have their critics. The current discussion regarding juries, "public participation" or "public observation" of trials -- the questions of what system to select and how the selection process should proceed requires more debate from all sectors of society in order to build consensus and move forward.

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Evaluation of Judges

In September of 2010, JRF collaborated with the Bar Associations of Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, and Yilan to invite their 2433 members to complete comprehensive evaluations of 114 judges serving in the Criminal Division of Taiwan's High Court. The resulting evaluation report was published on November 23 of the same year following board approval by the four participating Bar Associations.

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Courtroom Observation

Since April of 2011, JRF recruits citizens and students on a monthly basis to sit in on court proceedings. Courtroom observation occurs according to three models: 1) long-term observation of a particular judge; 2) long-term observation of a single high-profile case; 3) recruiting students and volunteers to sit in on court proceedings without a set schedule or location in order to build a database of courtroom observation records.

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New Revision of 2002 Criminal Procedure Amendment

Taiwan's Code of Criminal Procedure was last amended and put into force on September 1, 2003. In the decade since, use of improper procedure during trials has yet to completely disappear. Overall, judges, prosecutors, and lawyers alike still seem unfamiliar with the amendments and are still in the process of adapting to the change from an inquisitorial to semi-adversarial system. There is a general lack of experience, and much room for system-wide improvement. With regard to the quality of judicial personnel, the problem of judges being appointed to life tenure in their early twenties has yet to be fully resolved. There is also not yet a mechanism in place for the selection of well-qualified judges and the dismissal of derelict judges, making it difficult to safeguard the quality of trials.

According to international human rights standards as embodied in the ICCPR and other such conventions, criminal suspects or defendants have the right to adequate defense and representation. Taiwan's relevant systems, however, are still very underdeveloped. Not only does the defendant lack the right to private and privileged consultation with his counsel, lawyers themselves do not have the right to investigate evidence to prepare a defense. There is still a long way to go in order to meet international standards for the right to an adequate defense. Moreover, reform of quality control for lawyers is also incomplete. In an unpredictable and opaque market, it is difficult to distinguish talented lawyers. Consequently, people are unable to determine and select proficient counsel for their defense. As such, how can wrongful convictions and miscarriages of justice be avoided?

Therefore, JRF believes that Criminal Procedure revision should begin with the issue of how to reform operations within the district courts. By creating measures to strengthen protection of the rights of criminal defendants, we can establish a more secure and credible criminal justice system.

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Law of Compensation for Wrongful Detentions and Executions (Originally the Wrongful Conviction Compensation Act)

The Judicial Yuan has proposed a draft amendment to the Law of Compensation for Wrongful Detentions and Executions based on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 670, substantially revising the original Wrongful Conviction Compensation Act. The purpose of renaming the Wrongful Conviction Compensation Act as Law of Compensation for Wrongful Detentions and Executions was to broaden and redefine the scope of the act. The Judicial Yuan should be applauded for their initiative in this regard.

However, because the Judicial Yuan's proposed amendment still has certain flaws, the JRF has worked to create an alternative civil society draft in response to the Judicial Yuan's proposals.

On June 13, 2011, the Seventh Legislative Yuan passed the the Law of Compensation for Wrongful Detentions and Executions at the 17th meeting of their 7th session.

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Constitutional Interpretation Working Group

This working group assists Ke Fang-ze and Zhang Guo-Long (the protagonists of the story, 《流浪法庭30年》, "languishing in the legal system for 30 years") with their miscarriage of justice compensation claim. In January 29, 2010, the Constitutional Court released JY Interpretation No. 670, announcing that Article 2.3 of the Wrongful Conviction Compensation Act requiring intent or gross negligence on the part of government employees would expire in two years. Volunteer lawyers from JRF created a Constitutional Interpretation Working Group to apply for an extraordinary appeal on the behalf of Fang-ze and Zhang Guo-Long based on JY Interpretation No. 670. The appeal, however, was denied because the Wrongful Conviction Compensation Act had yet to expire. The clients were not able to obtain compensation until the Act expired on September 1, 2011 whereupon a two year window opened for old cases that could not otherwise be brought because of retroactivity.

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Partnerships

  • Alliance for Public Oversight of Grand Justice Candidates
  • Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty
  • Covenants Watch
  • Alliance to Promote Judicial Professionalism

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財團法人民間司法改革基金會
Judicial Reform Foundation

ADD:104-56 台北市中山區松江路90巷3號7樓
   Fl.7, No.3, Lane 90, Song-Chiang Rd., Taipei City 10456, Taiwan
TEL:+886-2-2523-1178
  FAX:+886-2-2531-9373
Email:contact@jrf.org.tw