[FOUNTAIN]What should we call our new ‘judges’?

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[FOUNTAIN]What should we call our new ‘judges’?

Just as a political career and a life can fail, judgment can also falter. Failure in judgment could end up as a matter of crime and punishment.
When judgment fails more often than it should, the reason for the state authority is doubted. It could lead to anarchy where power rules over words, by obstinacy rather than promise.
Sometimes, an immature personality and misjudgment of the judge causes a breakdown. Even judicial experts, who are well educated and guaranteed legal independence, will make decisions with political intentions. Innocent lives can be taken away when a judge neglects to follow due process.
In order to minimize judgment failures, some countries have a jury system with citizens participating the in decision process. The system prevents judges from becoming narrow-minded or being swayed by group psychology. Also, the jury system is based on the philosophy that the citizens’ simple reason and common sense should be included in making decisions that give the human the right to infringe on divine territory, such as the imposition of a death sentence.
After a decade-long discussion, Korea has decided to adopt a jury system for major criminal cases. The planning and implementation committee of the Presidential Commission on Judicial Reform, headed by Lee Hae-chan and Han Seung-heon, is currently working to devise related laws.
The focus of the public hearing scheduled on April 15 will be what to call citizens participating in the trials. “Judicial participant,” “civil justice,” and “civil judge” are under consideration.
However, “participant” or “justice” come from Japanese terms, and therefore, sound awkward. “Civil judge” is a term that is easily understood. Moreover, it entitles the citizens to equal power as the judges, so the title will give the “civil judges” pride and enthusiasm.
Meanwhile, the judges, who have long considered the title a symbol of authority, honor and justice, might be reluctant to share the respectable name. “Civil judge” has a connotation of openness, common sense and participation, but at the same time, it could lead to negative side effects of mass psychology, irresponsibility and excessive power.
However, now that the citizens are allowed to take part in trials, it might not be a bad idea to give the citizens a title that they can freely express their opinions without being intimidated by the judges. Titles often have a strange power to control behavior, and that’s why “civil judges” might fit best.

by Chun Young-gi

The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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