Prosecutorial Evaluation Committee Dereliction:
Control Yuan Must Impeach Chen Shou-huang
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
December 17, 2013
Summary: The Control Yuan is about to take on the Huang Shiming case once more. If it impeaches both Huang Shi-ming and Lin Hsiu-tao, their action will have important symbolic significance. It will prevent the nation's criminal justice system from sliding downhill. If Chen Shou-huang's influence peddling results in nothing more than a warning, if the Control Yuan sits by doing nothing, it will seriously undermine the prosecution of legislative influence peddling, civil litigation against Wang Jin-pyng, and the confirmation of party memberships. It would be tantamount to decriminalizing influence peddling, and surrendering the criminal justice system to the forces of corruption. It is time the Control Yuan acted.
Full text below:
The Ministry of Justice Prosecutorial Evaluation Committee has concluded that Chief Prosecutor Chen Shou-huang of the High Prosecutor's Office colluded with Wang Jin-pyng to peddle influence on behalf of Ker Chien-ming. The committee concluded that this was a serious case of dereliction of duty. But it said that Chen Shou-huang confessed during questioning and immediately resigned. It said "he was highly responsible," therefore would not be referred to the Control Yuan for punishment. It recommended that as punishment, the Ministry of Justice issue a "warning." As expected, once the evaluation was published, Chen Shou-huang reneged and refused to resign. This farce may be the result of confusion or incompetence. But it has already inflicted major damage to the reputation of the Prosecutorial Evaluation Committee.
The influence peddling case is the first case to be handled by the committee since the "Judges Law" was passed, The system for internal discipline of officials within the criminal justice system has been strongly criticized. This is why members of the public were made part of the evaluation process. The purpose was to eliminate out of touch "dinosaur judges." The committee was supposed to represent professionalism and ethics. Who knew it would evince even less self-discipline than prosecutors, and leave people shaking their heads? It failed to distinguish between minor and major offenses. It allowed itself to be duped.
Influence peddling must be strictly forbidden. This is a given within any criminal justice system. Former Judicial Yuan President Shi Chi-yang said that anyone who peddles influence must step down. Criminal justice involves fairness. If power holders can intervene and change the verdict in a criminal trial, then fairness has disappeared. If the verdict in a criminal trial can be determined by those with more power or more wealth, we might as well determine the outcome behind closed doors. What do we need the criminal justice system for? If this is how it will be, then criminal justice will be reduced to a meaningless ritual.
Before the Judges' Law went into effect, Supreme Court Justice Hsiao Yang-kui peddled influence with the trial judge in a car accident case involving his son. The Supreme Court Internal Disciplinary Committee ruled that Hsiao Yang-kui was not guilty of influence peddling. But it also said that mentioning his son's case to the judge amounted to misconduct. It recommended that the Judicial Yuan refer him to the Control Yuan for impeachment. The Judicial Yuan adhered to more stringent standards in dealing with such cases. It concluded that Hsiao Yang-kui peddled influence. It immediately suspended him and referred his case to the Control Yuan for impeachment. The Commission on the Disciplinary Sanctions of Functionaries suspended him for six months. The Judicial Yuan voiced strong objections. Hsiao Yang-kui immediately resigned and retired. As this proves, the criminal justice system need not treat influence peddling lightly. Influence peddling is impermissible on behalf of a son. How can one make an exception for a legislator?
The Prosecutorial Evaluation Committee was established to provide external oversight, to compensate for the lack of self-discipline within the criminal justice system, and to eliminate judges who abuse the law. But the Prosecutorial Evaluation Committee merely scolded Chen Shou-huang and Lin Hsiu-tao. It merely gave them a slap on the wrist. It followed up harsh language with kid gloves. It clearly had no intention of upholding justice.
Since its establishment, the Prosecutorial Evaluation Committee has evaluated two cases. One. Taitung District Prosecutor Liu Chung-hui was abusive toward a court clerk. He discriminated against people from Taitung and defamed religion. The committee recommended referring his case to the Control Yuan and relieving him of his job. Two. Taipei District Prosecutor Lin Kuang-you intimidated and mocked a defendant. He insulted the plaintiff and told him not to settle. The Prosecutorial Evaluation Committee recommended referring his case to the Control Yuan and suspending him for two years.
These two prosecutors were guilty of character assassination. The Prosecutorial Evaluation Committee found them guilty of dereliction of duty and recommended harsh penalties. It found that Chen Shou-huang's influence peddling set a bad example for prosecutors. It found that Lin Hsiu-tao's conduct cast doubt on the fairness of the criminal justice system. Both men seriously undermined the independent and objective image of the criminal justice system. Yet the committee recommend nothing more than a warning. Is this consistent with the principle of proportionality? Individual character is of course important. But can we tolerate such negative images of prosecutors as a whole? Is the committee brave only when taking on lower echelon prosecutors? Does its hand shake when faced with political cases?
The committee treated Chen Shou-huang and Lin Hsiu-tao with kid gloves. The reason they gave was that the two men admitted to wrongdoing and showed sincerity. Their reasoning was far too emotionalistic. In particular since Chen Shou-huang reneged on his promise to resign, denounced the committee's evaluation, and refused to admit that he was ever in the wrong. The committee was naive and credulous. Chen treated committee members like fools.
The committee established a negative precedent by letting those guilty of influence peddling off with wrist slaps. From an institutional perspective, the Ministry of Justice may find it difficult to overturn the committee resolution. But the situation is not irremediable. The Control Yuan can still impeach Chen Shou-huang and Lin Hsiu-tao. It can still refer them to the disciplinary courts for punishment. Once the disciplinary courts impose disciplinary action, the two men's administrative sanctions or "warnings," will automatically lapse. There are many precedents for this.
The Control Yuan is about to take on the Huang Shiming case once more. If it impeaches both Huang Shi-ming and Lin Hsiu-tao, their action will have important symbolic significance. It will prevent the nation's criminal justice system from sliding downhill. If Chen Shou-huang's influence peddling results in nothing more than a warning, if the Control Yuan sits by doing nothing, it will seriously undermine the prosecution of legislative influence peddling, civil litigation against Wang Jin-pyng, and the confirmation of party memberships. It would be tantamount to decriminalizing influence peddling, and surrendering the criminal justice system to the forces of corruption. It is time the Control Yuan acted.
2013.12.17 02:31 am