Disarray in the judiciaryJustice Ahn Chul-sang offered to step down as the head of the National Court Administration, which overlooks court activity, planning, organizational reforms and other administrative decisions.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Kim Myeong-su has accepted his resignation and will soon name a replacement. Ahn has been in charge since last January.
The administration division is headed by one of the justices of the Supreme Court. Although the tenure is not fixed, the occupant usually serves for two years.
His predecessor Kim So-young was replaced in six months.
Kim, who had been named a justice by former President Lee Myung-bak, was reportedly forced out for withholding evidence of abuse of power by the administration office.
Ahn said he was stepping down due to “physical and emotional strain.” He, however, did not deny conflict with the liberal chief justice by saying he had agreed with him in “the big direction.”
He had administered three rounds of internal investigations of past abuses of administrative power and basically found none.
But Kim pressed on with the investigation to “clear” suspicions. The prosecution has been investigating the court’s decision-making ways for seven months now.
Ahn said, “A good surgical doctor should administer the operation quickly through accurate judgment and understanding of the illness,” criticizing the prosecution for stretching out the investigation in scope and time.
Ahn does not come from the human rights and progressive groups that now dominate key positions in our courts. He is regarded as a sensible and genteel judge.
The judiciary’s disarray may worsen with the absence of a conservative figure in the second highest position in the Supreme Court.
It is not normal for the head of the court administration to change three times in less than two years.
The chief in his New Year’s address vowed to restore the confidence and dignity of the judiciary. He must act on his words.
JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 4, Page 30