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Supreme Court Calms Down over Ruling Party Row

Posted March. 20, 2010 07:56,   


The Supreme Court remained calm yesterday in a shift from its previous day’s criticism of the ruling Grand National Party’s proposal for judicial reform. Supreme Court Chief Justice Lee Yong-hoon responded to a barrage of questions from reporters, saying only that journalists work hard. With the court directly responding to the party’s move, judges took a wait-and-see attitude.

Most judges were generally convinced by Supreme Court Justice Park Ill-hoan’s strike against the ruling party. A senior official at the court said the party’s proposal to put the court’s sentencing committee under the president and allowing outsiders to have sway over the personnel affairs of judges will hurt the judiciary’s independence.

While the judiciary and media are the only apparatuses that check the political power, recent discussions in the political community could undermine the tradition, he said.

After the ruling party rebutted the court’s criticism by saying it reflected the court’s opinion, certain judges said the party simply asked a senior official at the court’s administrative body a few questions.

The official said past discussion of judicial reform was conducted through thorough deliberation by those representing the judiciary, prosecution lawyers’ groups, academia and the political circle.

Other judicial officials, however, opined that though the ruling party’s proposals were too unrealistic to be passed by the National Assembly, the court hastily reacted and gave the impression of engaging in mudslinging with the political circle.

Many in the legal community say the collision between the court and the ruling party has resulted from friction that began with the launch of the Lee Myung-bak administration. For example, the nomination of a Supreme Court justice was delayed for more than 15 days because of differences between President Lee and the chief justice. A nomination usually takes two to three days.

Earlier this year, when the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry suddenly stopped appointing a senior judge as international cooperation officer at overseas missions, the Supreme Court expressed its displeasure. It said the decision was made unilaterally without prior consultation.