중앙데일리

Korea’s first jury reaches a verdict

Feb 13,2008
At the nation’s first jury trial in Daegu, jurors took an oath yesterday before listening to testimony. [YONHAP]

DAEGU ― For the first time in the country’s history, a jury sat in judgment of a peer yesterday.
The process is part of Korea’s efforts to change from a mostly closed legal system that relies heavily on paperwork to a more open system, which relies more on testimony and evidence.
The regional court sent notice letters last month to 230 candidates, selected at random among residents of the district. Prosecutors and defense lawyers picked the nine official jurors, with three substitutes, from among 86 potential jurors.
“I am surprised that more citizens than expected appeared in court to participate in the first trial by jury,” said Um Jong-gyu, a judge of the Daegu District Court. “Many people have expressed an interest in the new system and more and more people want to take part in a trial.”
The trial in Daegu District Court involved a 27-year-old man accused of assaulting a 70-year-woman in her home in December.
The suspect’s lawyer, Chun Jung-ho, requested the jury trial. The jurors played an advisory role only, as the judge made the final decision.
Judge Yun Jong-gu presided over the trial. The jury selection took about two hours.
The trial started at 2 p.m.
Yun told the jury, “All suspects are innocent until proven guilty. The prosecutors are responsible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the suspect committed the crime. Just because the suspect has been indicted and is standing trial, you should not have prejudice.”
After listening to the defense lawyer and the prosecution’s arguments, the jury deliberated about two hours before deciding the accused was guilty. Upholding the jury’s recommendation, Judge Yun gave the man a suspended sentence of two years and six months, plus 80 hours of community service.
Hwang Young-mok, president of the district court, said, “This is a significant step to not only improve human rights, but also win the public’s trust.”
After the trial, Chun, the defense attorney, said he believed the jury system had worked in favor of his client. “If it was a normal trial, he would have received an actual prison term of about two years,” Chun said.
The National Assembly decided to introduce a U.S.-style trial-by-jury system last May. It was the first substantial change to criminal trials, investigations and indictments since 1954.
All Korean citizens over 20 are eligible to be a juror. Skipping jury duty could lead to a fine of up to 2 million won ($2,100) and bribing a jury member can lead to a jail sentence.
More than 100 criminal cases will be tried under the new system this year.


By Park Sung-woo JoongAng Ilbo/ Park Sang-woo Contributing Writer
[enational@joongang.co.kr]


dictionary dictionary | 프린트 메일로보내기 내블로그에 저장