[EDITORIALS]Reforming the judiciaryIt is shocking that an incumbent head of a district court raised an objection to the procedure of appointing a Supreme Court judge through the recommendation of the Chief Justice, claiming that outside forces exercise influence on internal matters of the judiciary.
Kang Byung-sup, the head of the Seoul Central District Court who recently informed the Supreme Court of his intention to resign from the post, pointed out, “The situation in which politicians and civic and social organizations that profess reform and progress exercise influence on the courts is a serious crisis for the judiciary.”
If courts come under the influence of outside forces, it amounts to a serious problem. Because the judiciary is the last stronghold of democracy and law, it must give sentences according to the law and conscience.
The same applies to the selection of a Supreme Court judge. To enhance the transparency and objectivity of the selection procedure, an advisory organ could be established and outside opinions could be heard through it. But it should not limit the selection to reform-minded and progressive people.
Supreme Court judges are called the “Flower of Judges.” If a certain ideological trend is adopted as the selection standard, what will be the result? Instead of working steadfastly at their courts, the judges will prefer to retire early, open their law offices and enjoy the economic stability of a lawyer, get the reputation of a liberal lawyer while working with civic groups, and then try to return to the court. If they stay on the court, they could deliver sentences that conform to the trends of the time.
As is pointed out by Mr. Kang, if a judge’s personal inclination, progressive or conservative, prevails in the court proceedings, who will trust such a court?
We think what Mr. Kang pointed out has to do with the worries of the people concerning judiciary reform. In connection with the composition of the Supreme Court, rumors say that it will be filled with people who follow a certain trend. The rumor is based on the fact that out of 14 Supreme Court judges, 13 will be replaced during Mr. Roh’s term.
The reform of the judiciary should not be one that replaces Supreme Court judges with people who share the same ideology as President Roh. The judiciary must have its own realm transcending ideology, power and even public opinion.