Experts wary of AKP's judicial reform package that expedites conviction

Aimed at expediting judicial processes, the judiciary reform package of Oct. 24, 2019 added the 'expedited trial' and 'simple trial' methods to Turkish legislation. While the first application of the expedited trial method was a success, getting the defendant convicted and out of the courthouse in 19 minutes, experts have concerns about how well the 'American-style' methods fit into the Turkish judiciary.

Filiz Gazi/ DUVAR

The judicial reform package passed Oct. 24, 2019 was put into effect Jan. 1, allowing a defendant to be in and out of the courthouse in 19 minutes.

The reform package added the expedited trial method and the 'simple trial method' to Turkish legislation.

Dubbed the 'American judicial style,' the new methods aim at expediting judicial processes and are expected to be applicable to about 180 thousand cases each year.

In and out of the courthouse in 19 minutes

The first case of the year that was eligible for the new procedures was seen on Jan. 9.

Y.A. was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and was offered a deal by the prosecutor.

Y.A. accepted the deal in the presence of their attorney and was convicted to seven months in jail, but their sentence was reduced to three and a half months since they took the expedited trial deal.

Y.A. left the courthouse that they entered at 10.02 a.m. a total 19 minutes later at 12.21 p.m.

Which crimes are eligible for expedited trial?

According to the legislation, the defendant's attorney will be able to negotiate a deal with the prosecutor and a conviction will be reached if the defendant accepts the deal.

Breaking and entering, jeopardizing public safety, jeopardizing traffic safety, noise complaints, dealing with counterfeit currency, breaking official public seals, forging official documents, gambling or accommodating gambling, possession of gambling paraphernalia, identity theft, possession of an unregistered firearm and unauthorized occupation of forests were determined to be crimes that are eligible for expedited trial.

Which crimes are eligible for the 'simple trial method'?

The simple trial method allows certain crimes, punishable up to two years, to be convicted without the case ever having a hearing.

Some 340 thousand cases are expected to be eligible.

Injury through neglect, threats, sexual assault (except child abuse), violation of residence immunity, violation of the freedom to work, insults, insulting a person's memory and vandalizing houses of worship or cemeteries will be crimes eligible for a simple trial.

Concerns about fitting the 'American judicial style' into Turkish courts

The 'American judicial style' is based on juries, noted lawyer Fikret İlkiz, noting the gap that will arise in the application of the expedited trial method in Turkey.

"We don't have cross examination, we have direct examination. This would clearly mean that certain judgement will be left entirely up to the prosecutor in the inquiry stage," İlkiz said.