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Supreme Court Reduces Number of Justices By One

Posted October. 01, 2005 07:43,   


The Supreme Court said on September 30 that for the position of the Director of the Administrative Office who supervises all the administrative work of the court, an ordinary court president, instead of a justice, would be appointed to reduce the number of justices by one in an effort to amend the court organizing law.

One official of the court said, “An amendment of the court organizing law will be asked to be submitted through the Justice Ministry or the National Assembly. As soon as possible, within this year, we are planning to ask for assistance for the amendment bill to be passed by the National Assembly.”

In this case, the number of justices, which is currently 14, will be lowered to 13. It is reported that the number of justices will be adjusted without selecting the successor to Justice Bae Ki-won, who will retire on November 30.

According to the constitution on court organization, a justice is also to serve as the director of the administrative office, and it has been so since the Chun Doo-hwan administration. The office is able to control matters of legal administration and ruling, so there has been much criticism that the director plays an “intermediary” role between the government and the justice ministry. There have also been complaints that the office is too powerful to rule over justices.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Lee Yong-hoon said at the inauguration ceremony on September 26, “Anybody in the position of the director of the administrative office has to communicate with the outside sectors including the National Assembly on matters like budgeting, so if a justice is given this role, the judiciary is likely to be influenced by political power.”

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is conducting its appointment procedure for successors of Justices Yoo Ji-dam, Yun Jae-shik, and Lee Yong-woo who are to retire on October 10.

After the Supreme Court acquires a list of recommended candidates from October 5 to October 11, there will be confirmation hearings of the Supreme Court attended by external figures on October 17. Following that, on October 20, President Roh Moo-hyun will assign the final appointee.

A confirmation hearing by the National Assembly will be held in early November for the three newly appointed justices. The appointment agreement will be approved around November 16.

In this case, there will inevitably be open seats for justices for a month, so the Supreme Court is currently reviewing how to reduce a group of four chief justices to three.

The candidates may come from either inside or outside the courts, will be 40 years old or older, with legal experience of 15 or more years.