Judges without judgementThe credibility of the judiciary branch comes from people’s respect for its integrity and conscience. If judges and prosecutors cannot garner trust from the people despite the fact that they deal with grave matters, a copy of an indictment or a written judgment are nothing but pieces of paper. Therefore, public distrust of the judiciary is a grave matter in itself and it has colossal repercussions and side effects across a society, which is why judges and prosecutors must retain a high level of ethics and morality.
Lee Jung-ryeol, a senior judge at the Changwon District Court, submitted a letter of resignation last week after being investigated by the police for damaging a car owned by his upstairs neighbor in an apartment after conflicts over noise. His neighborly retaliation - to put glue in the car’s keyhole and puncture a tire with a drill - was caught on CCTV. We are dumbfounded at his critical lack of basic sense and judgement.
If a senior judge is guilty of such a juvenile activity, how can people who stand before him in court receive his rulings? Also, we wonder why the judiciary can’t sort through such degraded judges when the authorities make judgments on whether to rehire them as judges after a certain period of service. The fact that only 25 judges were excluded from rehiring over the past 25 years by evaluation committees is a clear indication of the deep-rooted cronyism in the judicial branch.
The prosecution is no exception. As it turned out, the wife of a company chairman who was sentenced to life in prison has been living in a VIP room in a hospital for four years after execution of her sentence was suspended repeatedly. The prosecution is currently investigating the hospital in question, which has frequently issued suspicious medical reports about her health condition.
Would it have been possible for the prosecution to suspend her sentence over and over with a doctor’s medical certificate alone? We seriously wonder if the prosecutors on her case really checked the authenticity of her medical reports and health condition. It’s almost certain there’s some kind of dirty connection between the prosecutors and her lawyers.
Guaranteeing the status of judges and prosecutors and offering them broad authority doesn’t mean they can enjoy their privileges profligately. Judges and prosecutors must reform themselves through deep soul searching. Otherwise, they will have no other choice but to have to confront ordinary citizens’ demands to deprive them of their cherished status and privileges. We urge both the courts and the prosecution to wake up before it’s too late.