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Taiwan: Judges Evaluation Committee Operational as Part of New Judges Act

(Jan. 12, 2012) Taiwan's Judicial Yuan, its highest judicial organ, announced on January 5, 2012, that the new evaluation mechanism for judges, based on the Judges Act adopted last June, would take effect on January 6, 2012. The Judges Evaluation Committee system is being implemented six months in advance of the date when the Act itself takes effect, on July 6, 2012, “in response to social expectations,” according to the Judicial Yuan. (June Tsai, Taiwan's Evaluation Mechanism for Judges Takes Effect, TAIWAN TODAY (Jan. 6, 2012); for more information on the Act, see also Wendy Zeldin, Taiwan: Law on Removal of Judges Adopted, but Dinosaur Judges Might Not Become Extinct, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (July 6, 2011).)

The grounds on which a request for an evaluation of a judge may be made include, for example: serious violation of procedural rules for handling cases, of rules on professional duties, or of judges' ethical norms; delaying the advancement of a case without reasonable grounds, adversely affecting the parties' rights; participation in political parties or political organizations and their activities while serving as a judge; negligence in carrying out official duties; and violation of the Act's prohibition against judges holding certain concurrent posts. (Judges Law, 6982 THE GAZETTE OF THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT 20-65 (July 6, 2011), GLIN ID No. 249215 [has link to full text in Chinese].)

The evaluation should be done within two years. When it does not involve a judge who is handling a case, the time period will begin from the date on which receipt of the facts for the evaluation has ended; when it involves a judge who is handling a case, the time period will begin from the date on which he or she has finished handling that case, with certain exceptions. (Id. art. 36.)

The Committee may decide not to review the complaint, determine that the complaint is not valid, or judge the complaint to be valid. If a complaint is deemed to have merit, the case will be submitted to the Judicial Yuan for referral to its Personnel Review Committee or to the Control Yuan (the state's highest watchdog organization for public officials), for further examination and possible disciplinary action. (Tsai, supra; Judges Law, arts. 37-39; for a chart on the review process, see The Judges Evaluation System Sets Off, Judicial Reform Advances Even More [in Chinese], Judicial Yuan website (Jan. 3, 2012) [click on url with .pdf extension.) “Final assessment could result in removal from office or transfer to another position in the judicial system”; less serious infractions will incur administrative discipline. (Tsai, supra.)