Feb 21, 2007

Judge Urges Chief Justice to Resign

Donga Ilbo Feb. 21, 2007

A presiding judge called for an explanation from Supreme Court chief justice Lee Yong-hoon, questioning his morality. He blames the chief justice for distrust in legal community, most recently proven in crossbow attack on a senior high-court judge.

Jung Young-jin, presiding judge at the Seoul Central District Court, posted a paper on the court’s local area network (LAN) titled, “Urge the Chief Justice to Explain His Course of Action with respect to the Crossbow Attack.” In the paper, he said, “His unscrupulous behavior including tax evasion while he was a lawyer led to the current distrust of the legal circle.”

He in effect called for his voluntary resignation, saying that, “Unless the allegation is cleared, he should make a decision on his position. Even though he may be cleared, his position will seriously burden people in legal community and general public alike unless the charges are cleared.”
He wrote the article on the presumption of “a fictional scenario.” He also questioned two senior judges’ recent position changes. A senior judge in charge of warrant issuance who issued an arrest warrant for Cho Kwan-haeng, a former Seoul High Court judge, was transferred to a court of criminal appeals, not a consultation court for criminal cases. The other senior judge, who granted a prison sentence to Cho, was disqualified from promotions of high-court presiding judges.

In his conclusion, Jung asked, “Didn’t judges responsible for promotion feel pressured to pander to the chief justice? As I was commissioned later than my colleagues, should I worry about any disadvantages in promotion as an applicant for a High Court senior judge post next year?”
In the legal circles, rumors have spread that the article came as a result of discontent with recent regular appointments. The Supreme Court dismissed it as “an aberration of a judge unhappy with recent appointments.” Eighteen judges from the 13th to 15th graduates of the Judicial Research and Training Institute (JRTI) advanced to High-Court presiding judge posts recently, and Jung, the 14th JRTI graduate, was transferred to the 8th Consultation Circuit of high court civil cases.

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SeanHayes@ipglegal.com