Draft Bill Proposes Citizen Judges

Taiwan's Judicial Yuan has completed a draft bill, which, if enacted, would authorize public participation of citizens in criminal trials as so-called "citizen judges," and such citizen participants would be selected at random.

Such judges would be limited to citizens of the Republic of China at least 23 years of age. However, citizens who have law-related knowledge, such as lawyers and law professors are excluded.

Panels of three professional and six citizen judges would rule on criminal trials, ranging from offenses carrying a prison sentence of at least seven years to homicides occurring in the intentional commission of a crime. Additionally, these citizen judges will be permitted to raise inquiries of and to interrogate criminal defendants and witnesses.

If the panels, however, desire to render a guilty verdict, they will not only be required to have a two-thirds majority, but also at least one professional judge must support the guilty conclusion, according to Judicial Yuan Secretary-General Lu Tai-lang (呂太郎).

The Judicial Yuan emphasizes that people called to serve on these proposed panels would receive a daily stipend and reimbursement for transportation and other expenses, and further consideration will be given to specific costs.

Taoyuan District Court Justice Lin has stated that the success and suitability of such citizen judges will depend on the professional judges fulfilling their responsibility to explain relevant legal principles to the citizen judges. .
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