The Taichung Branch of the Taiwan High Court rendered the 103-Shang-Yi-184 Civil Decision of February 10, 2015 (hereinafter, the "Decision"), holding that since ordinary citizens cannot clearly differentiate judicial policies and specific judicial cases, the belief that an election candidate will leverage his/her status as a legislator elect to affect judicial operation is a matter open to public critique. Therefore, when a well-intentioned comment can be established, it does not violate the law and certainly does not undermine the reputation of a candidate.
According to the facts underlying the Decision, the Appellee and the Appellant's sister (by the name of Hui-mei Wang who is not a party to this lawsuit) both registered to run in the legislators' election. To seek Hui-mei Wang's election, the Appellant spread a message on the Internet which stated: "there is no record that shows Mr. Yi-pan Li served in the military and he entered Taiwan with a USA green card (he had not received his ROC identity card until March 8, 2011) and has never managed his constituencies in the Lukang area. Because his father had a legal case pending (involving illegal lending) and needed political asylum (when his parents were legislators, they both signed up as members of the Judiciary Committee of the Legislative Yuan),…"(hereinafter, the "Message at Issue"). The Appellee asserted that this move would mislead the voters and the public into misbelieving that the Appellee would resolve the judicial case for Chin-chun Lin, the Appellee's father, who was not a party to this lawsuit, by leveraging his authority after he was elected, and that his reputation was tarnished. Therefore, the Appellee claimed damages for tort on the ground that his reputation was tarnished.
According to the Decision, ordinary citizens cannot clearly differentiate judicial policies and specific judicial cases. In addition, although a legislator cannot affect specific legal cases, still it is possible that the operation of overall judicial policies such as decriminalization may be affected. Therefore, the citizens' belief that a candidate running for legislator seeks to be elected as a legislator to influence the operation of judicial powers in the capacity of a legislator through, for example, decriminalization, mitigation of crimination punishment so that his relatives can benefit from the criminal procedure is a matter open to public critique. Even if such inference is not correct, still the basis of such inference is the erroneous perception of general public rather than pointless allegations and is open to public critique, not to mention the opinion was not expressed using radical and vulgar language. Since this can be treated as well-intentioned comments and does not violate the law, it certainly does not undermine the reputation of the candidate. Even though the candidate is upset about such comments or his voters may question the motivations of the candidate, such comments are still protected as freedom of speech under the Constitution and cannot be deemed to have undermined the candidate's reputation.
Based on the foregoing reasons, the Decision reversed the original decision and rejected the complaint of this matter. To wit, the Decision was rendered against the Appellee.