Restore the dignity of the bench

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Restore the dignity of the bench

The last Sunday of September 2018 will be remembered as a disgraceful day for the Korean court. The offices, homes and cars of judges of the nation’s highest court, including former Supreme Court Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae, were searched. Prosecutors raided the home of Supreme Court Justice Ko Young-han and offices of former justices Park Byung-dae and Cha Han-sung.

The three judges who had headed the court’s administrative office during Yang’s six-year term are accused of abusing administrative power to influence bench decisions in favor of the former Park Geun-hye administration. Prosecutors searched Yang’s car on the belief that little evidence would be left in his home.

After the raid, prosecutors are expected to summon the former justices and press for their pre-trial arrest. After President Moon Jae-in called for a thorough investigation into shady connections between the Blue House and the top court in the past, current Chief Justice Kim Myeong-su promised to comply. The former chief justice is up against the wall amid escalating negative sentiment from the public as well as from juniors in the judiciary.

Yang must demonstrate more responsibility. Evidence and testimonies point to he and justices in the court administration attempting to cut deals with politicians and the media over their rulings.

He must stop making excuses for himself and show dignity as the retired top judge of the country’s highest court under the previous conservative governments because few will sympathize with his claim that he is a political scapegoat. Many leaders in our society have failed to live up to their responsibilities. Admission and taking responsibility can be a start to restore dignity and credibility of the bench.

JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 1, Page 30
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