The citizen judge system will be implemneted starting next year. Some observers, however, worried that not enough work has been done to prepare lay judges to cope with the new system.
Simulation court exercises have been carried out in the past two years. Starting next year, the citizen judge system will be implemented. In the future, not only professional judges, but also ordinary citizens will participate in the trial of major criminal cases. However, has the preparatory work been completed?
Chen I-ting, Deputy Chairperson, Taiwan Criminal Defense Attorney Assoc.: “We have only held simulations for two short years. There have been too many cases during these two years that were not simulated. How to make proper arrangements in case of an emergency? This is actually not within the scope of the simulations.”
Although nearly a hundred simulated courts have been held, the lawyers who have actually participated think that due to time pressure, the simulation procedures were too simplified. They are afraid that there will be a gap in the real situation. Lay judges are inevitably influenced when they face professional judges with legal expertise. This has triggered an authority effect, and related problems have emerged as a result.
Lin Tzu-wei, Legal Director, Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty: “The mock trials in the past have not conducted any pre-sentencing social investigation at all. But this investigation has to be done for death penalty cases in recent years. Otherwise, the case will be revoked by superior review.”
Lin Yung-sung, Chairperson, Judicial Reform Foundation: “Can the real court work like a mock trial after January 1, 2023? The judges in mock trials were all objective, neutral, and kind. And their explanations were very careful. But we don't know if this will carry over to the real court.”
In many mock trials, the Alliance to End the Death Penalty found that the investigation procedures were not complete in cases involving the death penalty. In this situation, the punishment was still directly imposed, which also caused concern. Social organizations have jointly established relevant alliances, which will continue to monitor the new system after it comes online. They hope that judicial reform can be truly implemented.