[STATEMENT] A Year Passed, but We Still Remember the Supreme Court Justice Shin Incident
- 2009.12.22 (11:36:00)
"A year passed, but we still remember the Supreme Court Justice Shin Incident"
Today, February 22, 2010, the Lawyers for a Democratic Society, Democratic Legal Studies Association, and People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD) presented a joint statement on the first anniversary of the trial intervention attempted by the Supreme Court justice Shin Young-Chul.
In this joint statement, the three organizations clarified their intent to "remember the Supreme Court Justice Shin Young-Chul, who made an embarrassing scene in Korean judicial history, and be reminded of the meaning of the situation." After mentioning “We urged Justice Shin to resign voluntarily and requested the National Assembly to impeach him a year ago," they concluded “Our thoughts and positions still remain unchanged. The resignation or impeachment of Justice Shin will be the momentum to strengthen the status of the Supreme Court and fortify the independence of judges.”
In addition, the Judicial Monitoring Center of PSPD will transmit the postcards from citizens to the Supreme Court justice Shin and data collection for a year on Shin’s trial intervention' to the Public Service Center of the Supreme Court.
The Joint Statement on the first anniversary of the Supreme Court Justice Shin Young-chul’s trial intervention
Though it has been a year, we still remember Justice Shin’s inappropriate meddling.
We already excluded him from the list of the Supreme Court Justices.
February 23th, 2009 was the day that a very shocking incident came to light in Korean judicial history after democratization. That was the ‘trial intervention’ by the Supreme Court Justice Shin. As facts of the case emerge, not only ordinary citizens but countless lawyers and legal scholars condemned Justice Shin and called for his resignation. Unfortunately, Justice Shin did not resign voluntarily, and the Supreme Court, which should be the symbol of authority and honor, could not be rid of a dark shadow drawn by violation on judges’ independence.
Today, a year after the disclosure of Justice Shin Incident, we would like to remember the Supreme Court Justice Shin Young-Chul who made a shameful scene on Korean judicial history, and ruminate on the meaning of the Incident.
A year ago, we urged Shin to resign voluntarily and requested the National Assembly to impeach him. It was not just us outside of the judicial system who could not condone Justice Shin's act. 495 judges from 17 high courts and district courts among 26 courts of the country held meetings, and from these meetings they also concluded Justice Shin's act as a violation of independence of judges and urged him to resign.
Last year, we presented a statement to declare the behavior of the Justice Shin of the Supreme Court “to violate citizen’s right to fair trial and trespass independence of the Court which is one of the core values of democracy.” We condemned that “the Constitution states a judge shall arrive at ruling decisions independently based on the constitution and laws guided by his/her conscience, but the Justice Shin’s conduct trampled on judicial officers’ conscience and moreover infringed upon the Constitution.”
We further commented, “Even after Justice Shin’s intervention in the judgment decision is revealed, he did not resign from his position. The Chief Justice did not respond satisfactorily to this incident resulted in destroying people’s trust on the Court completely. People at last reached a reasonable suspicion that judicial officers do not judge fairly without outside intervention but may be affected by pressure from senior justices.”
However, Justice Shin is still holding his position as a Supreme Court Justice without acknowledging his fault. The opinions of about 500 judges have been ignored and wishes of many citizens have not come true. The Grand National Party-Hannara, which is stuck in a senseless behavior of treating an independence of judges as political gains and losses, automatically abrogated a resolution of impeachment prosecution of Justice Shin introduced by the opposition parties who had support from the people. Despite of this, our positions and thoughts announced a year ago still have not changed. It also has not changed that resignation or impeachment of Justice Shin will be a chance to correct the status of the Supreme Court and strengthen independence of justices.
We ask people including lawyers to remember Incident of Justice Shin. Especially, we request all judges to make an active effort not to repeat a similar incident because it is a judge’s duty-judge conscientiously by the Constitution and laws.
Currently, there are strong demands from outside the Court to reform the judiciary system. It partially intends to discipline the judiciary and the other part involves damaging judiciary independence. The reason for these types of arguments is due to misconception cultivated by the Supreme Court Justice Shin Young-Chul Incident that trial intervention could be permitted with no consequences. Should the Court wish to restore its authority and credibility, it should protect its judges’ independence.
February 22, 2010
Lawyers for a Democratic Society
Democratic Legal Studies Association
People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy