Not qualified to speak of justiceLying under oath at court constitutes the crime of perjury. The judge also could find the deceiver committing a civil contempt of the court, leading to a fine or jail term. Yet the highest judge — chief justice of the Supreme Court — has lied. The lie was made in a written form submitted to the legislature, which constitutes lying under oath. He is also accused of colluding to impeach a sitting judge. Chief Justice Kim Myeong-su has repeatedly vowed to “defend the court sovereignty determinedly and sternly against outside pressure,” but all had been in rhetoric.
Eight retired chairs of the Korean Bar Association on Monday issued a statement demanding Kim’s resignation for the sake of the judiciary’s independence. They said the chief justice’s yield to the sitting power and lies to the public have “disgraced the Korean Constitutional history.” The Korea Law Society representing law professors across the country also criticized Kim for wavering under political power and deceiving the people.
Civic groups have pressed charges against him, and criticism is also brewing within the court. A lying chief justice is shocking to society. He should be resigning. But Kim remains unashamed and without regrets. He claims he cannot remember what he told a sitting judge who wanted to resign. If Kim keeps this political strategy, he must be impeached.
The ruling Democratic Party (DP), which has impeached a judge who was acquitted of charges by a court, has gone all-out to defend the lying chief justice. The executive committee of the DP said that Chief Justice Kim could not have accepted a resignation from Lim Seong-geun, a senior judge on the Busan High Court, who had overseen controversial trials during the Park Geun-hye administration, to uphold judiciary dignity. The DP argued that the chief justice could not accept Lim’s resignation as he should be impeached by the legislature. The party may be out to tame the bench and court through successful defense of the chief justice on its side.
The court exists to judge falsehood and uphold justice. The chief justice has the constitutional duty to defend the independence of the judiciary and judges. Impeachment is an institution to oust judges who undermine the separation of powers. But the legislature and judiciary are wrecking the separation of powers and law and order. The ruling party and top court cannot demand the people to abide by the law and rulings. They are not qualified to speak of justice.