The Judicial Yuan and the National Communications Commission (NCC) invited broadcast media as well as experts and scholars to take part in the “Forum on media influence of citizen participation in trials and maintaining the fairness of trials,” which took place on March 15, 2022. In the forum, the contents of the newly formulated Citizen Judges Act to be enacted in 2023 were introduced, while those in attendance engaged in discussions on the boundaries and codes of conduct that may arise in the future when media reports involve trials participated in by citizen judges.
As Secretary-General Hui-huang Lin of the Judicial Yuan stated, broadcast media have always been important channels for general citizens to receive information on judicial proceedings. As such, they not only satisfy the public’s “right to know” through news reports, but also play a positive part in exercising external supervision and promoting legal reform. It is hoped that, following this forum, members of the media will exercise discretion when interviewing and reporting cases, thus assuring the fairness, neutrality and objectivity of judicial trial proceedings and protecting the rights of all parties involved.
NCC Chief Secretary Chung-shu Chen also indicated that the administration should offer adequate explanations during the process of enforcing the Citizen Judges Act, and that the media, as the Fourth Estate in charge of supervising the state, should refrain from excessive value judgments that may impact the effectiveness of the newly enacted system even as it remains entitled to the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution. Members of the media industry are also reminded to ensure compliance with regulations on fact verification and principles of fairness as stipulated in the Satellite Broadcasting Act in hopes that, with the joint participation of public and private entities, the new system of citizen participation in the judicial system is successfully introduced and becomes conducive to the manifestation of popular sovereignty.
Experts and scholars attending the forum included Mr. Yung-cheng Kao, Member of the Control Yuan; Justice Zhen-xian Lin of Taiwan High Court, Tainan Branch; Professor Lai-jier Her of NCCU; Professor Yu-shun Lin of Central Police University; Professor Hui-wen Liu of the Department of Journalism, NCCU; Prosecutor Chao-liang Chu of the Supreme Prosecutors Office; and Justice I-chun Wang of Taiwan High Court. The abovementioned professionals, from the various aspects of academic theory, examples of legislation adopted by other countries and actual practice, proposed codes of conduct as well as other recommendations that aim to maintain fairness in trial. Regarding the self-disciplinary measures to be adhered to by the media when interviewing and reporting cases participated in by citizen judges, representatives of the Satellite Television Broadcasting Association R.O.C. attending the forum also engaged in extensive exchanges with members of the Judicial Yuan.
Fig. 1 Secretary-General Hui-huang Lin of the Judicial Yuan delivering an address
Fig. 2 NCC Chief Secretary Chung-shu Chen giving the opening speech
Fig. 3 Professor Lai-jier Her of the NCCU College of Law sharing the related contents of the Citizen Judges Act
Fig. 4 Members of the broadcast media industry in attendance