A Response to Mr. Li and Professor Wang
I am grateful to Mr. Li and Professor Wang for their thoughtful comments and am flattered by their praise. The very fact that a lawyer and a law professor speak of their criminal justice system with such insight and candor highlights one of the most laudatory aspects of Taiwan’s legal reform project: A transparent, open debate over the best path for Taiwan. During the course of my research, I was deeply impressed by the transcripts of lengthy legislative debates during which a number of experts from the judiciary, executive branch, and academia appeared to present reports and field legislators’ questions regarding proposed reforms. Moreover, these transcripts are readily available from government websites.
While I agree with Mr. Li that the “perception of prosecutors as judge-equivalent” remains strong, I would not go so far as to say that Taiwan’s current path is pointing towards “a way of no return.” Perhaps I am naïve or Pollyannaish, but I am an incorrigible optimist and believe that there remains room to chart a different path. Certainly the dramatic changes to Taiwan’s legal system in the relatively short period of two decades suggest reason for hope that reformers can once again muster momentum for further changes. For example, as Professor Wang indicates, people might “rethink” the timing of when counsel is appointed. It is certainly possible that some sort of brief initial appearance will not suit Taiwan’s civil-law based system. However, at a minimum, a renewed debate over the possibility of initial appearances would at least draw attention to the concern that, under current procedures, lawyers are often appointed too late in the game to have a significant impact on the case’s resolution. Come what may, I am confident that with the likes of Mr. Li and Professor Wang spearheading reform efforts, vibrant debate will continue. I look forward to following reforms in the years to come.