Posted July. 05, 2005 02:28,
I seriously considered whether I should refuse [the candidacy] because I feared that my close relationship with the president would become an issue. However, I decided to accept it after consultations with respected people, answered Constitutional Court Justice candidate Cho Dae-hyun during the National Assemblys special hearing on Monday to the question from lawmakers Park Kye-dong and Kim Jae-kyung of the Grand National Party (GNP) asking if Cho had failed to predict that the neutrality of his candidacy would be questioned due to his relationship with the president.
Mondays hearing focused on the political neutrality of Chos candidacy. Cho is a close friend of president Roh, who passed the 17th national law exam like Cho, and was one of those who legally represented the president during the impeachment.
Another issue of concern was the fact that Cho was one of the attorneys for the government during last years constitutionality case of the special law on the new administrative capital. The opposition pointed out that this means that Cho does not qualify as a constitutional court justice who will be making a decision on the constitutionality of the special law on the Multifunctional Administrative City Construction, which is currently under deliberation at the constitutional court.
Controversy over Political Neutrality-
Cho is known as a member of the eight club, which is a group of fellow law exam passers at the Judicial Research and Training Institute (JRTI). President Roh is also a group member. However, Cho stated in the hearing, Eight or nine students at the JRTI studied case examples together but there were no formal clubs. Eight club is a name that the press made up.
Vice secretary-general of the constitutional court Seo Sang-hong and attorney Kang Bo-hyun of the law firm Yoon & Yang, of which Cho is a member, are also eight club members. President Rohs son-in-law is also an attorney with Yoon & Yang.
Another point of controversy was the fact that Yoon & Yang is handling a dramatically increasing number of cases on behalf of the government
Lawmaker Lee Sang-yeol of the Millennium Democracy Party inquired, Yoon & Yang has represented the government in 22 cases in 2003, 27 in 2004, and 56 as of June this year. That is a dramatic increase. Is there a special reason for this?
Cho answered, In many cases, a law firm decides to handle a case based on friendship. [As for the great increase of government-related cases,] I do not know of any special reason.
When GNP members raised suspicions of a connection-based nomination, Cho said, I have many friends in the GNP as well.
When lawmaker Park Chan-sook asked, Will you attend Cheong Wa Dae dinners even after you become a constitutional court justice? Cho answered, There is no reason not to. I do not think that presidents meeting and discussion with constitutional court justices invited to Cheong Wa Dae as a group would undermine political neutrality.
Controversy over Qualifications for Constitutional Court Justice-
Lawmaker Kim Sung-jo and others of the GNP claimed, If candidate Cho, who was among the governments attorneys during the ruling of the constitutionality case of the special law on the new administrative capital, rules on the constitutionality of the special law on the Multifunctional Administrative City Construction, that would create a rift in public opinion.
Cho countered by saying that although his name was on the list of the governments attorneys during the case of the special law on the new administrative capital, that did not disqualify him as a constitutional court justice because he did not directly take part in the legal debates.
Cho also asserted, If we follow the assertion that justices who took part in the case of the special law on the new administrative capital may be biased and therefore are unable to fairly rule the case of the special law on the Multifunctional Administrative City Construction, no one would qualify to impartially rule on the latter case.