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The hope in Lee Gyun-yong, the nominee for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
The hope in Lee Gyun-yong, the nominee for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
  • Lee Dong-gi
  • 승인 2023.09.17 14:17
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The last bastion of stabilizing the human rights and safety of the people should be strengthened and the trust in the Triumphant Fair Trial Court also needs to be improved. Legal services and court adjustments that can satisfy the public's standards. Additionally, a court that cannot be affected by power, money, media, and public opinion.

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Lee Dong-gi, Doctor of Public Administration.

[Open Policy News] Lee Gyun-yong, the Supreme Court Chief Justice candidate, stating his thought, "We will constantly reflect on what is a desirable court that can serve freedom and rights and meet public expectations and demands." It is expected to be a rough one, but I think the public's expectations for Chief Justice Lee Gyun-yong are higher than ever.

Policies that increase the confidence of the judiciary cannot be overemphasized. Denmark's judicial credibility, with a population of about 5.8 million, ranks first in the world, and 94% of the people believe the court's ruling is the result of a fair and just ruling without wavering in the face of power and capital public opinion.

Lee Yong-kyun, a candidate for the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (Source:연합뉴스)
Lee Gyun-yong, a candidate for the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (Source:연합뉴스)

According to the British think tank's '2023 Legatum Prosperity Index' survey, Korea's overall ranking is high at 29th out of 167 countries surveyed, but in detail, the judicial system is 155th, the military is 132nd, politics is 114th, and the government is 111th. Most of the above remained in the lower ranks. In particular, the judicial system fell 9 places from 146th in 2013 to 155th in 2023, showing that the public's trust in the judicial system has further decreased.

In front of Seoul National University Law School, there is a statue of Lee Jun, the first graduate of Seoul National University Law School and the first prosecutor of the Republic of Korea, and there is a bust and portrait of Lee Jun at the Supreme Prosecutors' Office. After the establishment of the government of the Republic of Korea, Kim Byeong-ro, the first and second Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, resisted all pressure and interference from outside the judiciary during his nine years and three months in office and made a great contribution to establishing the judicial system of the Republic of Korea and laying the foundation for judicial independence. Both of them were independence activists and excellent lawyers, received the Order of Merit from the National Foundation, and are buried facing each other in Suyu-ri, Seoul.

If Lee Gyun-yong is appointed as the 17th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, it will not be easy within the six-year term, but following the example of great lawyers such as Martyr Lee Jun and Chief Justice Kim Byeong-ro, the judiciary will be reborn as the most honest and trustworthy judiciary in history through innovation, and its status will be raised. see. This can be seen in the aspirations and writings of Lee Kyun-yong, a candidate for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, prepared in Ask about the Path of a Judge in the Plaza of the Humanities.

In one word, the communication promoted by the court is listening and empathy.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. emphasized the importance of listening by saying, “To speak is the realm of knowledge, and to listen is the privilege of wisdom.” And he says that empathizing with those involved in litigation means understanding legal emotions. Additionally, Francois de La Rochefoucauld, who preached that “our virtues are in most cases nothing more than disguised vices,” said of the nature of judges, “For a good judge, justice is nothing more than a love of praise; “The justice of an ambitious judge is nothing more than the love of promotion,” he pointed out.

As a matter of public duty, judges themselves strive to objectify their views on judgment, at least in the form of consultations and answers, and criticize and review their views on judgment from others to the extent that it does not run counter to the request to maintain the appearance of independence and neutrality in their duties. It must be revealed.

Through reflection on one's inner self, I realize that justice cannot be achieved by shouting about it but requires action, and I dream of realizing a wonderful judiciary that is easy to use, easy to understand, and trusted by the people.

There may be many cases and excellent trial records that enhance integrity and trust, but even if there are familiar cases, there are cases that are closely related to the court depending on the culture, history, and historical circumstances of the country and region, and the reason and emotion felt at the time and place. Although opinions may differ depending on the parties, such as the defendant and the plaintiff, we will recall the rulings of two judges who are examples of integrity and are well-known to the public and legal professionals.

First, Judge LaGuardia applied language appropriate to the level of New York citizens to the court.

Fiorello La Guardia (1882.12.11-1947.920) was a 155cm short Congressman and a good judge who served as mayor of New York City (3rd term) and was widely respected for his life in fighting the corrupt political factions and mafias that ruled New York City.

In one trial during my time as a judge, an elderly woman was arrested for stealing a piece of bread out of concern for her starving grandchildren and was sentenced to a $10 fine. However, Judge LaGuardia, who was in charge of the case at the time, suddenly said, "And I will pay that fine," and sentenced himself to a $10 fine. He also sentenced all the police officers, prosecutors, lawyers, and audience members in the courtroom to a fine of 50 cents.

The basis for his strange sentence at this time is a masterpiece. Since the U.S. government, myself, or the audience failed to provide any help to the grandmother, which resulted in the grandmother being driven to crime, I, as the judge, took responsibility for myself and paid $10 on behalf of the U.S. government and the rest to the prosecutors and lawyers in the relevant court. , police officers and audience members were charged 50 cents for not showing interest in the plight of the poor. All of this money, excluding a $10 fine, was donated to her grandmother. At this time, her grandmother was said to have shed tears of sincere gratitude and she was grateful.

If Judge LaGuardia had used expressions such as 'helping the underprivileged or the poor elderly' instead of 'the crime of eating a lot of good food', it would not have been received favorably and would have hurt the feelings of the elderly, and he would not have been moved or empathized with the audience. People often blame individuals for failure or poverty. However, the difficulty for some is that society's indifference or the influence of the environment is often great.

Rather than blaming someone, change the society that created such results. Perhaps the lesson given by Judge LaGuardia is seen as an encouragement to create a beautiful society.

Second, Judge Yamaguchi kept his conscience even while starving to death despite the evil law.

Yamaguchi Yoshitada (1913-1947) After Japan's defeat in World War II, there was a severe shortage of supplies. Rice production in 1945 was only 58% of 1942, and an average of 6 homeless people starved to death every day at Ueno Station. The Japanese government began rationing rice through strong food control laws but was unable to stop the rampant black market. There was so little rice rationed that most people had to survive on rice purchased on the black market.

In 1947, Yamaguchi (then 33 years old) was working as a judge in charge of economic cases at the Tokyo District Court. He fell down the stairs while leaving the trial on August 27 of that year. The results of his hospital examination showed severe malnutrition. However, he said, "The judge can't eat black market rice if he breaks the law," and endured rice rations until the end, until he starved to death on October 11 of that year, giving up his 'appetite', the greatest of human desires.

Here, the contents of Yamaguchi's diary, where he had a premonition of 'death', read, "The Food Control Act is an evil law that will starve the people to death. However, as long as it is a law, the people must absolutely obey it. No matter how painful it is, I will never engage in black trading. Therefore, anyone who violates this must be dealt with sternly. I have always admired the spirit of Socrates, who obeyed the law and obeyed his sentence cleanly even though he knew it was an evil law. Today, citizens of a country governed by law especially need that spirit. I am not Socrates, but I am willing to obey the Food Control Act. I plan to starve to death. I will die while fighting against the black market. My life every day is truly a march toward death. Among the judges and prosecutors, there are people who secretly engage in black market transactions and yet show up in court with an air of innocence, but I am the only one who continues this innocent march of death. "When I think about it, I completely forget about my illness and feel relieved. Most of my defendants are ex-convicts under the Food Control Act. Lawyers and prosecutors are also eating black-market rice. How can I make the right decision?"

Yamaguchi's starvation laid the foundation for establishing a clean judicial culture in Japan. No matter how much justice you talk about, if you imagine people greedily eating black market rice behind the scenes, that noble justice collapses. And those who have suffered the most are the judges who sincerely use words such as 'people's trust', 'justice', and 'conscience'. When Yamaguchi died, he left behind a simple lesson, 'Judges and prosecutors must follow the law first.' This was a resignation letter that upheld absolute authority and had a significant impact on the law and reality for all Japanese judges and the legal community.

Both Justices LaGuardia and Yamaguchi were models of integrity. By recalling the trial records of past judges and through retrospective evaluation and prospective analysis, we aim to create a highly trustworthy judiciary for a positive, progressive, and hopeful future through the judges' judgments recorded and stored based on past and present experiences.

It is believed that the culmination of all incidents and accidents, large and small, is almost resolved by the decisions of the judiciary. In the past, about 100 judgments were written per month, but now about 10 judgments are written. Although the quantity of judgments has decreased, the quality is also said to have decreased.

I believe that the scales of Dicke, the goddess of justice, are shaken by power, capital, the media, and public opinion. The judiciary is the last bastion of human rights protection, looking after the safety and stability of the people and resolving injustice justly and fairly. The moment the judiciary compromises with unfairness, it will fall into the abyss of corruption and cannot escape due to loss of public trust.

I think that there may be some actions in the judiciary that are swayed by the parties involved in legal disputes, power, capital, media, and public opinion, and those who are well-versed in legal common sense may reduce trust in the judiciary. The powerless and the weak are good at complying with the law, but they maintain a relationship of coexistence and co-prosperity with those in power and those with capital, or legal services seem to be biased toward a system where the rich get richer while the rich get richer, with courtesy to all officials.

It is seen that people who are in a position to take the lead in equity, fairness, justice, and trust are abusing the law and lowering the trust in the law among good citizens.

In the case of the Election Act, despite the trial deadline being set, there are cases of 'wasting the national treasury' by intentionally delaying the trial date until a new election or not proceeding with the trial or preventing it from proceeding. In other words, not only is the national treasury wasted due to delayed rulings, but trust in the judiciary continues to decline. Some trial practices of the judiciary that have been shaken by power, capital, the media, and public opinion need to be corrected.

In addition, we are witnessing cases where even after being sentenced to prison, the court is not respected based on the principle of presumption of innocence by using the three-valued law as a shield, making the court weak and undermining trust in the judiciary. From now on, all litigation cases will be viewed as a privilege to the general public in accordance with fairness. It is believed that the status of the judiciary will be raised if the ‘three laws of justice’ are expanded and applied to carefully examine cases of unjust detention and arrest.

It seems that the current 3,126 manpower of the judiciary (as of March 1, 2023) will not be sufficient due to the high number of complaints and prosecution cases, so it may be necessary to add more manpower, but those in power and capitalists, especially legal experts and those who are well-versed in legal knowledge are responsible for the law. If we take the initiative to take good care of ourselves and respond to trials as litigants in legal disputes, I think our manpower will actually decrease.

I hope that our country's weak judiciary and the legal profession will actively cooperate to restore trust and become a judiciary loved by the people.

In the postmodern era, where the era of rationalism and eclipse of reason (Hyper-connectivity, Hyper-speed, Hyper-change) and the AI era coexist, the “judiciary,” the last bastion for the human rights and safety of the people, is under pressure from political power or capital. I hope to remain the most trusted judiciary and excellent Chief Justice in the history of the Republic of Korea through a court that is unwavering in front of the media and public opinion and makes decisions that are fair and in line with the public's expectations, and a court that is trusted and can be trusted without misunderstanding or doubt.

When the Supreme Court Chief Justice Personnel Hearing Special Committee, comprised of 13 members of the ruling and opposition parties, adopts a review progress report on the appointment motion for Chief Justice Lee Kyun-yong through a two-day personnel hearing (19-20), the appointment motion will be voted on at the plenary session of the National Assembly. To process it, a majority of the members of the National Assembly must attend and obtain majority approval. I hope that the “17th Supreme Court Chief Justice Lee Gyun-yong” will be passed and trust in the judiciary will increase through fair operation of the judiciary in accordance with the public’s expectations without any vacuum at the head of the judiciary.


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