Judge who posted on Facebook facing the axe

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Judge who posted on Facebook facing the axe


서기호 판사

A judge who was warned by a court for posting derogatory remarks about President Lee Myung-bak on Facebook has been deemed ineligible for reappointment and asked to attend a personnel committee meeting in order to prove his eligibility.

On Monday the Judicial Administration, the department that manages all administrative affairs including human resources, budgets and accounting of the Supreme Court, explained it sent an e-mail to Judge Seo Gi-ho, 41, on Friday, asking him to attend at the personnel committee meeting. It said Seo has earned poor evaluations for his work.

The court said that it also requested Seo to give prima facie evidence that his online disparagement of Lee and the Korean government was appropriate as a judge.

On Dec. 7, Seo posted a message on his Facebook page that criticized the Korea Communications Commission’s move to censor postings on social networking services. He employed puns often used in “Naneun Ggomsuda (I’m a Petty-Minded Creep),” a popular political satire podcast that lampoons the president.

The head of the Seoul Northern District Court verbally warned Seo against making such public remarks on Dec. 16.

Some Korean media reported yesterday that the personnel committee has disapproved Seo’s reappointment. But Seo told the JoongAng Ilbo that the decision hasn’t been finalized yet.

“The e-mail stated that the forecast for the reappointment is very negative due to the poor evaluation,” Judge Seo said. “I’ve told them to provide details about my ineligibility before I participate in the meeting because the judicial administration hasn’t specifically mentioned any reasons for disqualification. I don’t see any problems in my career and I think I should be reappointed as a judge.”

Seo also employed social networking services by posting a note on Facebook and Twitter: “I’ll gladly attend the meeting next week because I haven’t done anything wrong in my career and I can’t find a reason for being fired from my job.”

According to the Supreme Court, all judges go through the eligibility screening every 10 years after an initial appointment is made. Seo’s first 10 years of service ends in February.

The screening system was started in 1988. Only three judges have been denied reappointment, the court said. An official at the judicial administration said most poor judges resign because they don’t want to be branded as having been fired.

“The Supreme Court is trying to tighten up personnel management of judges,” a spokesman of the court told the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Lee Dong-hyun, Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]
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