[EDITORIALS]Better Judges, Better SystemThirty-three mid-level judges grabbed the people's attention by asking publicly for judiciary reform. They established an online discussion forum for judges who are concerned about the democratization and reform of the judiciary that would be a prerequisite for the rule of law and political independence.
They outlined a plan to gather opinions from judges by opening the discussion room on the Internet only for members of the judiciary. We wonder how the Supreme Court will respond to the proposal.
The judges said in their statement, "The crisis of the judiciary, where the people are at a loss because of rampant corruption and injustice, has been brought on partly by judges who have not met their responsibilities. This is mainly because of problems in the judiciary system." They also said, "The official conference for judges is not functioning properly, other than providing opportunities to relay orders from the top down."
It is a rare case that the need for reform was raised forcefully within the judiciary. Due to the characteristics of their work, judges should be conservative and restrained, and their collective action should be regarded somewhat differently from that of prosecutors. We can also expect the effects of the judges' action to ripple through the whole society.
The judges' demands should be heard as an internal warning against the slow progress of ongoing judiciary reform. Although there have been many discussions about judiciary reform, no meaningful result has come of them. With the passing of time, people's trust in the judiciary has eroded and the need to reform cannot be postponed any longer.
Nobody is opposed to judiciary reform, but the system alone is not responsible for the people's distrust in the courts. What about judges who are too open to political influence, and the popular belief that money can buy innocence? We think that the will of individual judges to live up to the responsibilities of their calling is more important than reform of the judicial system itself, in order to foster political independence and fair justice and root out corrupt practices.
We think that reforming judges' minds should come first, followed then by changes in the judiciary system.