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Proceedings Practically Complete at First Trial

Posted November. 16, 2004 23:05,   


From now on, trial decisions are practically finished in their first trials, and higher trials will only be re-adjudicating whether or not the original decision was right or wrong.

The current appeal system of a complete rehearing at a higher trial level will be replaced by a re-adjudication system of re-judging only, on whether or not all agree to a first hearing decision on the second trial.

The Judicial Reform Committee under the Supreme Court of Korea announced on November 16 that they agreed on a policy of “strengthening lower trials,” including the above mentioned policy, in their general meeting held on November 15.

Hong Gi-tae, the Supreme Court’s judicial policy reviewer, said, “The decision strives to have all the trial documents handed in for the first trial so that there can be full contemplation efforts,” and added, “If the re-adjudication system is adopted, the trials after appeals will be processed at a much faster speed and takes less time to confirm their rulings.”

Hong said, “The committee members have agreed that we can strengthen the first trial ruling by implementing a ‘centralization of the legal profession’ by selecting judges out of lawyers with a certain career record lengths and out of the specialization of the judges, and that it is important to increase people’s confidence in trials.”

The committee also agreed that the current system of alternating judges between lower and higher trials should be replaced with one where judges are separated to take exclusive responsibility in each of the lower and the higher trials, and that the higher trial judges should be selected out of lawyers with longer legal careers that lower trial’s judges.

The higher trials so far have been composed of one senior prosecutor with a legal career spanning from 22 to 28 years in general, and two associate judges with 12-year legal careers in general. However, this will be changed to select judges from similar backgrounds so that the judges in the Supreme Court can write the minority opinion in the ruling when regarding a major point of contention.

However, the Reform Committee thinks it is difficult to realize such a system immediately, and suggests that judges in the high courts, such as election trial judges and important criminal court judges, can be recruited first among judges with similar backgrounds. Hong explained, “For example, election cases or major criminal cases such as the one regarding Yoo Young-chul can incorporate higher-court senior prosecutors for the trials and have them draw up sentences.”