A question of justiceMaintaining credibility is necessary for the judiciary. The court is the place to determine right from wrong in all the confusion and conflicts of our daily lives. Individual as well as administrative and legislative disputes must await court rulings. If the credibility of the judiciary crumbles, so does the bedrock of social order.
The latest scandal involving a senior judge at the Gwangju District Court raises serious doubts about the integrity of the judiciary. The controversial figure - Senior Judge Seon Jae-sung - has had a good reputation in the region. But he is now tied to a series of allegations involving nepotism and cronyism by using his power to distribute corporate jobs.
He placed his brother as an auditor at two companies under court receivership. He also gave corporate advisory positions to three lawyers who are his school friends. He even made his driver a court manager of a company under receivership. He provided jobs to many of his close friends and relatives.
To be precise, he has not violated any law. It is the bench’s right to name court managers. But such authority has been bestowed because a judge’s position is seen as credible. A law-abiding state cannot exist without such trust. There is no oversight mechanism for the court because there is irrefutable confidence in the justice system.
The judge therefore must have a thoroughly clear conscience when he or she sits on the bench. A judge’s pursuit of self-interest may not be illegal. But it is nonetheless an antisocial action that jeopardizes the credibility of the entire justice system. The judiciary must restore its credibility on its own. The Supreme Court must order a thorough investigation and re-examine the courts’ process of selecting court managers. It must also come up with a mechanism to prevent the recurrence of such mishaps.
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