[EDITORIALS]Court reformThe Supreme Court yesterday held a meeting with judges from around the country to hear their opinions on the court’s appointment policy, and in particular the nomination of supreme court justices. The Supreme Court said Chief Justice Choi Jong-young called the meeting. The director of court administration and more than 70 senior judges of district courts in the country and branch courts in Seoul attended. The discussion was a frank one, the court said.
Coming a week into the controversy surrounding appointments to the Supreme Court, it is fortunate that the chief justice has decided to hear the views of rank-and-file judges. It is because there had been no way to gauge the views of the judges who remained silent, while those of 144 reform-minded judges who signed an e-mail petition asking for an overhaul of Supreme Court justice appointments were heard loudly. The court ought not ignore the views of the minority, but it is proper for it to try to hear the views of the majority when the general sentiment on an issue remains unclear.
We believe that it was inappropriate for one of the judges to release a press statement before he went into the meeting that said he would resign from the bench unless there was visible reform in the Supreme Court appointment system, with a more liberal composition of a recommendation committee. He should have tried to convince fellow judges at the meeting. Issuing a statement in advance amounted only to pressure on the leadership.
Reform of the judiciary has become an unavoidable issue. We have repeatedly pointed out that judicial reform ought to come from within the judiciary. When it is exposed to outside influence, judicial independence can be threatened.
The Supreme Court must get on with reform. It must not continue to use seniority as the largest factor in appointments. Reform is a task for the judiciary to undertake to keep its independence and to deflect attempts from the outside to influence the courts. That could be a real accomplishment of yesterday’s meeting.