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[Editorial] Dissolution of Law Society

Posted January. 29, 2010 06:13,   


The ruling Grand National Party’s committee on improving the domestic justice system released yesterday collected papers written by judge belonging to the Woori Law Society to show the organization’s ideological inclinations. Supreme Court justice Park Si-hwan said in his paper, “The purpose of the organization is not to improve judges’ skills but to steer the court toward an ideological direction through the participation of judges who share the same ideology in trials and judicial operation.” Park urged like-minded judges to wield a collective influence over trials and judicial administration. The organization, however, claims that its nature is academic. The Korean people cannot trust court rulings if judges make such a blatant lie.

Park took the lead in establishing the organization in 1988 and has played the role of a spiritual leader. When a dispute erupted over Supreme Court justice Shin Young-chul’s alleged intervention in trials last year, Park supported the collective act of judges aimed at ousting Shin, saying, “Judges can be urged to keep procedures and rules only in a reasonable situation. When the 1960 student movement and the 1987 pro-democracy campaign took place, rules were not observed.” Comparing Shin’s act with a pro-democracy or anti-dictatorship movement makes no sense, however. Park was involved in controversies in 1988 and 1993 that led to resignations of Supreme Court chief justices Kim Yong-chul and Kim Deok-ju. When Choi Jong-yeong served as Supreme Court chief justice in 2003, Park resigned in protest of the nomination of a justice. At the time, Park said the nomination dashed public hopes for judicial reform. In 2005, however, he was appointed a Supreme Court justice by President Roh Moo-hyun and Supreme Court Chief Justice Lee Yong-hoon.

Supreme Court justices have to encourage judges to conduct trials based on law and common sense. Park, however, has talked and acted as if he wants to foster revolutionary thinking that violates laws. Papers of other judges apparently influenced by Park are no different from that of Park. One paper said, “Korea seems to be the 53rd U.S. state,” while another said, “Troop deployment to Iraq is both unconstitutional and assists unlawfulness.” Another scholar’s paper said, “Those who took power through the dictatorship of pro-Japan forces and those who inherited power never think of looking at their bloody hands...” On criticism over the recent spate of not guilty verdicts, a judge in his 30s said in his contribution, “A Letter to Chief Judges in the Run-up to Regular Personnel Shakeups” that criticism is forcing the acceptance of totalitarianism. His claim is both groundless and inappropriate since his writing could undermine the discipline of the judiciary by complaining of personnel matters.

Judicial reform should begin with the dissolution of the political private group Woori Law Society. Supreme Court Chief Justice Lee Yong-hoon and Justice Park should lead the way.