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Jury System To Be Implemented

Posted February. 03, 2003 22:31,   


A bold reform drive is to be pursued to change the current judicial system. In the future, ordinary citizens may be allowed to participate in the judicial proceedings through the American or German jury system.

The Supreme Court of Korea announced yesterday that it has decided to introduce the jury system, whether American or German, to reflect the sound common sense of the general public in the judicial decisions and enhance the trust of the public in court rulings.

The Constitution of Korea, however, provides that all of the judicial proceedings be presided and decided by judges. Thus, either of the systems presupposes an amendment to the Constitution. Thus, it is not sure exactly when either could be put into practice.

For now, the Supreme Court is leaning toward the German jury system. Since introduction of the system requires revision of the Constitution, the court will first allow citizens to voice their opinions to the court in major felony cases, which does not violate the current version of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court will also set up a committee by the end of March, which will monitor all promotion and appointment procedures for Supreme Court Justices. Moreover, it will revamp the current appointment, evaluation and promotion systems for all judges.

Furthermore, it is positively considering introducing law schools. Under the current Bar Exam system, even college law majors do not care about the regular curricula. They just pitch in their best to pass the bar exam. In addition, since non-law majors could take the exam, numerous smart people stick to the exam.

Presently, even after passing the Bar Exam, prospective attorneys have to finish up the tow-year education program at the Judicial Research and Training Institute prior to beginning practice. In the future, however, candidates have to be enrolled in one-year common program. Then, for the next one or two years, they will do internship in the relevant field in accordance with their future jobs such as judge, prosecutor or defense attorney/litigator.

The Supreme Court will return part of the filing fee if a civil action is wrapped up before trial.

Furthermore, the Supreme Court will make continuous reform efforts to rein in abuse of attachments, to improve judicial treatment of family or juvenile court cases, to upgrade divisions in Seoul to district courts, and to appoint more judges.

Both refer to a legal system where ordinary citizens other than lawyers participate in judicial proceedings. The German jury system requires citizens to be selected before serving on the bench with judges. The American jury system features separate roles of jurors and judges. Fact-finding is left solely in discretion of jurors. Therefore, it is solely the duty of the jury to render a verdict in a case. The latter is further divided into two subcategories: grand jury which gets involved in arraignment, and the jury which finds facts in regular judicial proceedings.

Wi-Yong Jung viyonz@donga.com