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  • Interpretation
  • No.442
  • Date
  • 1997/12/12
  • Issue
    • Does the law violate the constitutional protection of the people*s right of litigation in providing that matters of election or recall of elected public officials shall be finalized on appeal to the high court only and under no circumstances may retrial be applied for?
  • Holding
    •        The purpose of Article 16 of the Constitution, providing that the people have the right of instituting legal proceedings, is to ensure that people may file a lawsuit in accordance with legal procedures and receive a fair judgment. In regards to the system of different adjudication levels and the relevant procedures for pursuing legal remedies, the legislative agency may on its own consider the nature of the lawsuit to regulate it appropriately by law. Article 109 of the Public Officials Election and Recall Act, as amended and promulgated on July 23, 1994, providing that decisions from election lawsuits must be finalized on the first appeal and may not be appealed again, is within the scope of the legislative agency*s discretion and meets the special needs of election-related lawsuits. It does not infringe upon the constitutional protection of the people*s right of instituting legal proceedings, is necessary to advance public interests and benefits, and is not in conflict with Article 23 of the Constitution.
  • Reasoning
    •        The purpose of Article 16 of the Constitution, providing that the people have the right of instituting legal proceedings, is to ensure that people may file a lawsuit in accordance with legal procedures and receive a fair judgment. In regards to the system of different adjudication levels and the relevant procedures for pursuing legal remedies, the legislative agency may on its own consider the nature of the lawsuit to regulate it appropriately by law. Election and recall is a public legal right. The resolution of the relevant disputes, though it cannot completely ignore private rights, should place emphasis on preserving public interests, which is not entirely the same as civil litigations protecting private rights. Also, there is a specific term limit to the office of public officials. If there are many adjudication levels in lawsuits relating to election and recall, then the situation may arise where the office term ends before the lawsuit is finalized. It may also affect the elected official’s ability to concentrate on his/her official duties. Therefore, for the purpose of ensuring the order of law, there is the need to adjudicate lawsuits promptly relating to election and recall. Appeal in legal procedures is an abnormal procedure. It is in essence a system to remedy the wrong determination of facts in the original judgment and is different from the usual legal procedures. Because it is an abnormal procedure, it contradicts the principle of finality of judgment. Therefore, there is no single solution to the question of whether there should be an appeal to final judgment, which question should be determined on a case-by-case basis depending on the rights involved and the nature of the lawsuit. Thus, this is within the discretion of the legislative agency. If the restriction satisfies the goal of protecting the rights of the people and is a necessary measure, then it does not infringe upon the constitutionally protected right of instituting legal proceedings. The current election/recall lawsuit is an inter-parte action and is adjudicated by a panel of judges. The proceeding at the trial level is already very scrupulous so that it may satisfy the object of the lawsuit. Even if there is a neglected issue at the trial level affecting the rights of the parties, their rights can be protected on appeal. After going through two arguments (at the trial and appeal levels), under the operation of a competent judicial structure with professional personnel, the judgment should be trusted, and the determination of facts and application of law should be close to ideal. Therefore, based on certain needs and the special nature of election and recall lawsuits, it is necessary to eliminate the procedure for reviewing the judgment on appeal for the public interest. Thus, it cannot be said to violate Article 23 of the Constitution.  
      
    • *Translated by BAKER & McKENZIE.
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