Resolution on impeachment of judges lacks legal force: top court


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Korea’s top court said the recent resolution by a group of judges addressing the possibility of impeaching justices involved in a power abuse case does not have legal power, a lawmaker revealed Tuesday.

In light of a massive judiciary power abuse case, allegedly led by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae, the National Judges Representative Meeting adopted the resolution that power abuse by fellow judges should be considered “serious violations of the Constitution, for which not only internal penalty measures should be considered, but also impeachment.”

Supreme Court Chief Justice Kim Meong-su (Yonhap)

Among the 119 judge representatives, 105 participated in the meeting on Nov. 18. The resolution passed with 53 votes.

In a statement submitted to the National Assembly, the Supreme Court said the resolution is only a “declaration” that the misconduct of the judges is unconstitutional, and it is not legally binding.

“(The resolution) simply expresses that (impeachment of the judges) should be reviewed under the Constitution. As it is the group’s opinion, it is not appropriate for the Supreme Court chief to provide a response to the resolution,” said the Supreme Court statement revealed by Rep. Kwak Sang-do of the Liberty Korea Party.

Pointing out that there were also many votes opposing the resolution, the Supreme Court added it would consider diverse opinions to “work to regain the trust of the people.”

The prosecution is investigating the alleged abuse of power by Yang and subordinate judges. They are suspected of having used politically sensitive trials as bargaining chips to win favor from the Park Geun-hye administration.

A justice can only be impeached upon approval from the National Assembly and the Constitutional Court. No judge has ever been impeached in Korea.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)


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