Citizen Participation in Trials
▍Introduction to Citizen Participation in Criminal Trials
The purpose of citizen participation in criminal trials is to allow ordinary people outside the legal profession to participate in criminal trials. It is one of the most important judicial reform policies of the Judicial Yuan. Although the National Conference on Judicial Reform did not make a specific decision on the model of citizen participation in criminal trials, the Judicial Yuan established the Deliberation Committee for the Bill of Citizen Participation in Criminal Trials consisting of representative judges, prosecutors, lawyers and scholars. The Committee has been deliberating the Bill of Citizen Participation in Criminal trials once a week since June 2017. The Bill was promulgated on November 30, 2017. After several public hearings and briefings, the Bill was proposed by the Judicial Yuan and the Executive Yuan to the Legislative Yuan for review on April 25, 2018. Because the legislative term ended in December, 2019, the Bill was reintroduced to the Legislative Yuan for review on March 24, 2020. The Legislative Yuan passed the “Citizen Judge Act” on July 22, 2020, and the President promulgated it on August 12 of the same year.
The key points of the Act are as follows:
|(1)||Name of Act: Citizen Judge Act|
|(2)||Selection of citizens: According to the jury system adopted in the U.K. and the U.S., “citizen judges” are selected randomly on a case-by-case basis to ensure public participation in the legal process.|
|(3)||Type of criminal trials: Citizen judges may participate in cases where the minimum punishment is no less than ten-year imprisonment and cases that involve offences which have caused victims to die by intentional criminal acts. They will not participate in juvenile criminal cases and drug cases.|
Scope of participation: In reference to the models of citizen participation in Europe and Japan, citizens are involved in the procedures for determining offenses and sentences of public concern to truly realize in-depth public participation.
|(5)||Participation rights: Unless otherwise stipulated, citizens and judges have the same authority and rights to vote during the trials.|
|(6)||Model of participation: Citizens participating in the trials can discuss their doubts with judges to ensure that contention is discussed based on the parties’ claims and evidence, which is conducive to the formation of correct judicial discretion. Through direct dialogues between citizens and judges about the cases, the gap between professional opinions of judicial trials and the citizens’ feelings of justice can be narrowed; in addition, the number of citizens participating in the trials (6 citizens and 3 judges) and the deliberation rules (that opinions are given by citizens first) ensure the equivalent and substantive deliberations of citizens and judges. Based on two-thirds of the opinions given by citizens and judges, judgements are made to reflect the citizens’ feelings of justice and professional opinions of judicial trials.|
|(7)||Supporting litigation system: The indictment-only doctrine and preliminary proceedings are adopted. Based on the cooperation between judges, prosecutors, and lawyers and the disclosure of evidence in preliminary proceedings, the “court-centered” trials enable the parties to present evidence under the evidence investigation procedures. This allows citizens participating in the trials to form judicial discretion based on the claims and evidence presented by the parties, achieving the purpose of citizen participation.|
|(8)||Others: Regulations governing the protection of personal data, daily travel expenses, official leave, and violation of rights and interests of citizens participating in the trials are clearly established; in addition, production of simplified written judgements, the appeal system, and regular reviews conducted by the evaluation committee are also in place to establish a long-term system of citizen participation in criminal trials.|
Since the release of the 2017 Bill, the Judicial Yuan has completed 47 mock trials nation-wide to familiarize the judges, prosecutors, and lawyers as well as the public with the new system and to verify and improve the feasibility of the new system. In addition to online videos, internet celebrity videos, comics, and online interactive games, briefings, public hearings, and review meetings have been held to help the public understand the purpose and spirit of citizen participation in criminal trials. Since July 2019, the Judicial Yuan has started to promote the new system on campuses and completed 70 campus moot courts by the end of 2019, attracting about 5,000 odd teachers and students to participate. In the future, the Judicial Yuan will continuously organize related activities to promote communication with the general public, teachers, and students regarding the system of citizen participation in criminal trials and legal education.
The Citizen Judge Act will become effective on January 1, 2023. Prior to the date, the Judicial Yuan will take the following action to ensure the Taiwanese courts and communities are ready for the new trial system, including holding educational and training programs for legal professionals, building or renovating court rooms, devising related rules and regulations, conducting research and evaluation, and publicizing the new system.
- Release Date : 2020-01-22
- Update : 2020-09-30