Since January, a total of 26 cases applicable to the citizen judge system have been prosecuted across Taiwan, including 14 cases of homicide, the spokesperson for the Judicial Yuan said in a press conference this week. Seven and six cases have been tried in Taichung and New Taipei District Courts.

The Citizen Judges Act, which took effect on January 1, authorizes the government to randomly select lay people to participate in trial proceedings as citizen judges alongside professional judges in certain felony cases.

Citizen judges are allowed to participate in the trial of offenses carrying a minimum prison sentence of 10 years, as well as cases where death results from intentional criminal acts. Juvenile criminal cases and cases related to the Drug Control Act are excluded.

Starting from January 1, 2023, lay judges will first sit in cases involving death resulting from intentional criminal acts. From January 1, 2026, they will be working on cases of attempted murder and significant corruption offenses under the Anti-Corruption Act, which carry a minimum prison sentence of 10 years.

男子酒駕競速釀1死求勿國民法官審案  北院開庭

Photo Credit: CNA

A scene outside the Citizen Judge Court in Taipei in April

Among the 26 prosecuted cases applicable to the citizen judge system, there are a total of 14 homicide cases, 8 cases related to drunk driving and drug-impaired driving causing death, and 4 cases of manslaughter. The first cases in Kinmen, Keelung, and Taipei all involve death caused by drunk driving.

According to estimates by the Judicial Yuan, citizen judges are expected to sit in 300 cases this year, and cases with the participation of lay judges will continue to grow.

This article originally appeared in The News Lens Chinese edition. Translation is by Edward Ying-jen Lin.

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