The Supreme Court ruled that it is illegitimate for the judge of a lower court to hand a heavier sentence on a defendant after the judge read ruling on the defendant.
The Court 3 of the Supreme Court remanded after reversal an appeal by a defendant against the Uijeongbu District Court as he was handed a two-year sentence after he was indicted for submitting a legal complaint to the prosecution that contains falsity (libel suit). “The ruling is illegitimate because there is no ground behind the case that will make the ruling justifiable,” the Supreme Court said. “The defendant did not have a chance to exercise any right to defend himself while his action unfavorably affected the court’s ruling against him.”
After the judge read a ruling statement suggesting “The court hands the defendant one-year in prison” when the lower court issued the ruling in 2015, the p exclaimed “Damn the trial!” and caused disruption in the courtroom, cursing the judge. Then, the judge changed his ruling to sentence him three years in prison by taking into consideration his behavior in the courtroom, saying, “The ruling is not over just yet.” The court of appeals reduced the sentence to two years in prison to the defendant who reflected on his misbehaviors, but still judged that changing the sentence by the lower court’s judge was legitimate.
“Changing rulings cannot be accepted without reservation just because sentencing was not completed,” the Supreme Court said. The Supreme Court thus clarified that changing the sentence can only be accepted in the event of special situations including when the judge discovers that the ruling was factually inaccurate.