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The judiciary faces crisis of trust

Posted November. 15, 2018 07:40,   

Updated November. 15, 2018 07:40


Six judges at the Andong Branch of the Daegu District Court proposed to request impeachment of judges involved in allegations of abusing judicial administrative power to conduct surveillance on individual judges and interfered with the cases. They argued that the judges should confess that the infringement of judicial independence unconstitutional. Given that it is the first time in judicial history for incumbent judges to urge impeachment of fellow colleagues, this matter should not be taken lightly. The subject is predicted to grow more controversial when the agenda is tabled at the National Judges Representative Council.

There are conflicting views over the impeachment argument, with high-ranking judges against the decision on fears that it may set a wrong precedent and those protesting of declining public trust over the judicial system. The impeachment of judges, which entails parliamentary approval and the final decision of the Constitutional Court, has been unheard of in judicial history. The problem, however, is that Kim Myung-soo, head of the Supreme Court, may reverse the Special Investigation Team's May conclusion that "it cannot be seen as criminal charges" and asked for the public prosecutor investigation, which may deepen discord within the Court.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office indicted Lim Jong-hoon, the former deputy head of the Office of the Court Administration, Tuesday on charges of abusing authority. This suggests that Yang and former Supreme Court Justice Park Byeong-dae will be summoned for prosecutor investigation, in addition to some 80 former and incumbent judges. Public distrust of the judicial system soared when the judges rejected warrants in the investigation, and some voiced the need to set up a special judge panel to ensure a fair trial. The Supreme Court opposed the idea, saying that it would be unconstitutional, came up with a plan to extend the justice department under the Seoul District Court, but controversy continues. Each event is unprecedented and undermining the reputation of the judicial body.

The undermining of the public trust towards the judicial system would entail serious consequences. The idea of the court" supporting state administration affairs" goes against the constitutional ideas of separating the executive and judicial bodies of the state and weakens trust towards trials. The unethical behavior of the judicial body, which had been free of external vigilance until now and has become the subject of prosecutor investigation and possible impeachment, has brought calamity upon itself.