Rescuing Confidence in the Judicial System: Introducing Lay Participation in Taiwan


  • Kuo-Chang Huang,

  • Chang-Ching Lin

  • This article is a revised version of a paper delivered at the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies Conference on Asian Empirical Scholarship, June 4, 2012, University of Hawaii School of Law. We thank three anonymous referees for their helpful suggestions. We also appreciate the comments of Valeria Hans and Kevin M. Clermont.

Address correspondence to Kuo-Chang Huang, Associate Research Professor and Director of Center for Empirical Legal Studies, Institutum Iurisprudentiae, Academia Sinica, 128 Academia Rd., Sec. 2, Taipei, Taiwan 115; email:


Using Taiwan's 2012 proposal as an illustration, this article discusses a new form of lay participation—the advisory jury—where a group of lay jurors make a collective decision without the professional judges' interference but such decision has no binding effect. This article analyzes how identifying promotion of the public's confidence in the judicial system rather than democratizing judicial decision making by legal elites as the reform purpose leads to the emergence of this form of lay participation. Through a newly conducted national survey, this study shows that the strong support for citizen participation indeed arises from popular dissatisfaction with judicial decision making by professional judges. However, merely half the public are willing to serve and significant disparities in willingness to serve exist across various demographic groups. Our empirical findings inform policymakers of important issues to be addressed in future implementation of citizen participation.