To maintain the stability of the law, after a judgment has become final, no dispute should be raised over the final judgment. However, should no correction of a final judgment be allowed when the judgment has established wrong facts or applied laws wrongly, there would be confusion over application of certain laws, and people would not be able to recover their rights and interests infringed, which is unfair and unjust. That is why the criminal laws of Taiwan provide a special relief to allow retrial of cases whose judgments that established facts wrongly have become final (Article 420 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, et seq.) or extraordinary appeals against final judgments that applied laws wrongly. (Article 441 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, et seq.)
One of the circumstances under which a motion for retrial may be filed in accordance with Subparagraph 6, Paragraph 1, Article 420 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is when the discovery of new evidence is sufficient to show that the convicted should be acquitted, exempt from prosecution, sentenced for an offense less serious than the one in the original judgment, or his or her punishment should be remitted. The Supreme Court interpreted such evidence as evidence having novelty and conclusiveness. To meet the requirements for such evidence set by the Supreme Court, the trial courts in Taiwan found that a motion for retrial by Subparagraph 6, Paragraph 1, Article 420 of the Code of Criminal Procedure could be filed only when novel and conclusive evidence has been presented. Such novel and conclusive evidence refers to evidence that had existed when the trial court rendered the final judgment, but was not found, investigated or considered before the judgment, and could firmly convince the retrial court that the final judgment should be revoked, in which case a new judgment favorable to the accused should definitely be rendered.However, such requirements are unreasonable and unnecessary, impose non-legally prescribed restrictions on people's basic constitutional right to overturn judgments on wrongful convictions by petitioning for retrial proceedings, and therefore are against the principle of legal preservation.
The objectives of the retrial system are to find the truth, uphold fairness and justice, and prevent wrongful convictions. That is why Article 420 of the Code of Criminal Procedure was amended early this year. Subparagraph 6, Paragraph 1 of the amended article reads, "Where the discovery of new facts or new evidence, alone or together with prior evidence, is sufficient to show that the convicted shall be acquitted, exempt from prosecution, or sentenced for an offense less serious than the one in the original judgment, or his or her punishment should be remitted." Moreover, Paragraph 3 has been added to Article 420 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which reads, "The new facts or new evidence under Subparagraph 6, Paragraph 1 of this article refers to facts or evidence that had existed or been confirmed before the final judgment was rendered but has not been investigated or considered, as well as facts and evidence that exist or is confirmed after the final judgment is rendered."
After the amended provisions had come into effect, the Supreme Court rendered Ruling No. Tai-Kang-125 on 4 March 2015, indicating how to apply the amended provisions. The ruling states,
Some of the restrictions on retrial have been lifted. The amended provisions acknowledge that the principle of questionable evidence being favorable to the accused should be applicable to not only general cases tried by courts but also motions for retrial of final convictions. The novelty of the connection between the convicted (accused) and the factual evidence is no longer a requirement for a retrial motion. Instead, the connection between the factual evidence and the court is emphasized. In other words, as long as the factual evidence is authentic, it can be presented before or after the final judgment is rendered or be examined alone (such as alibi, proof of assumed identify, and new assessment reports or methods) or together with evidence in the court file. (Unlike Japan's judicial system, Taiwan's judicial system requires conveyance of all the dossiers and evidence. Thus, there is no issue over disclosure of evidence. Theoretically, no prosecutor is likely to intentionally conceal evidence favorable to a defendant.) If such evidence can raise any reasonable doubt about, and is likely to overturn, the facts established by the final judgment, it can support the motion for a retrial. In sum, even if the combined examination of new evidence and previous evidence does not render nonexistent the criminal facts the final judgment confirmed, or lead to a weaker moral conviction of such criminal facts, the conditions for retrial should be deemed met as long as it is reasonable and justified to suspect that such confirmed criminal facts are not authentic and such suspicion is likely to affect the result or holding of the judgment, regardless of whether the examination of new evidence and previous evidence can definitely overturn the final judgment.
Nevertheless, even though the opinion of the Supreme Court judgment is favorable to the accused, trial courts' position with respect to motions for retrial of cases remains to be seen.