GNP calls for experienced lawyers on the bench

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GNP calls for experienced lawyers on the bench

The Grand National Party announced yesterday it would pursue measures to allow only judges with at least 10 years of experience in the legal field to preside over cases and to increase the number of Supreme Court justices.

The move, reached by the party’s special committee on judicial reform, comes in response to controversial verdicts that the GNP has argued were the result of judges’ inexperience and liberal inclinations. The decision is also meant to reduce “bureaucracy” within the courts, said the party’s floor leader, Ahn Sang-soo.

“The United States and other nations that place attorneys on the judge’s bench all do so with individuals who have worked the field for more than 10 years,” Ahn said.

Some high-profile rulings this year have given conservatives ammunition to push for judicial reform. Controversial rulings acquitted opposition lawmaker Kang Ki-kab of charges related to obstruction of justice, and staff members of the broadcaster MBC of charges of defaming government officials and obstructing the business of U.S. beef importers by airing disputed “PD Diary” episodes about mad cow disease. Conservative lawmakers and prosecutors argued that young judges’ liberal political bias led to these verdicts.

The GNP recently pressed for the breakup of the Society for Research on Our Law, a study group of judges that came under criticism for wielding liberal influence on high-profile decisions. Some GNP lawmakers said certain members of the group have been critical of the existing legal system in their postings on the group’s Internet homepage.

In another development yesterday, the GNP and the main opposition Democratic Party agreed to form a joint special committee on judicial reform at the National Assembly.

According to the parties’ officials, 20 representatives will make up the committee, with a Grand National lawmaker as the chairman. The committee will appoint three subcommittees to study court reform, prosecution reform and attorney reform.

By Yoo Jee-ho []

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