Constitutional Court rejects request for impeachment of former chief judge Im Seong-geun for ‘intervention in trial’

The Constitutional Court has ruled that it is inappropriate to request an impeachment trial against former Busan High Court Judge Im Seong-geun, who was impeached on the ground that he intervened in the trial and violated the Constitution.

It is to the effect that a judge whose term of office has already expired cannot be removed from office, so there is no interest in an impeachment trial.

The Constitutional Court dismissed the request for adjudication with the opinions of five judges, one dismissed, one judge who finished the trial process, and three judges cited on the date of the sentencing of the impeachment prosecution case against Lim, which was held at the grand trial at 2 pm today.

The Constitutional Court said, “The Constitution makes it clear that the impeachment trial is a procedure for determining whether or not the respondent will be expelled from the relevant public office, such as stipulating that ‘the decision to impeach is only for dismissal from the public office’.

He also explained the reason for the dismissal decision, “As former Chief Judge Im lost his judicial position due to his retirement at the end of his term, it is clear that even if the trial on the merits is completed in this case, the decision to remove him from office is not possible.”

In response to the National Assembly’s claim to check whether Lim’s actions violated the Constitution and laws, the Constitutional Court said, “In the two precedents of impeachment trials against the president, only a single order of dismissal or dismissal of the request for a trial was declared. Mann was not independently sentenced.”

Meanwhile, Justice Moon Hyung-bae said, “If the respondent (Lim Seong-geun) retired after the expiration of his term and no longer holds a public office, it should be regarded as the end of the trial procedure as he loses his/her qualifications in the impeachment trial.”

On the other hand, the Constitutional Court Chief Yoo Nam-seok and Justices Lee Seok-tae and Kim Ki-young have cited opinions. They said, “As this is the first case of impeachment of a judge, the Constitutional Court will warn in advance of the possible infringement of judicial independence in the future if the Constitutional Court finds out the significance of judicial independence or the constitutional responsibility of judges within our constitutional order. It can be prevented,” he said.

Regarding Lim’s intervention in the trial, he said, “It is enough to undermine trust in the independence and fairness of the trial, so it violates Article 103 of the Constitution.” pointed out.

In a statement sent to reporters immediately after the decision, Judge Lim said, “I express my gratitude and respect to the Constitutional Court for making a reasonable decision based on the law. I am sorry for causing concern to people.”

Previously, former Chief Judge Lim violated the Constitution by intervening in the trial of former Japanese Sankei Shimbun Seoul bureau chief, Tatsuya Kato, who reported on the activities of former President Park Geun-hye on the day of the Sewol ferry disaster between 2015 and 2016, while serving as Chief Criminal Chief Judge of the Seoul Central District Court. He was impeached by the National Assembly on the 4th of February.

However, Judge Lim’s term of office expired on the 28th of the same month, and at the three hearings held thereafter, the National Assembly and former Chief Judge Lim had a fierce battle over whether an impeachment trial could be made against the expired judge.

The National Assembly argued that former Chief Justice Lim committed an ‘unconstitutional act’ of exerting influence over his judges while serving as Chief Criminal Judge, and that he should be impeached.

On the other hand, the former Chief Judge Lim said that he was only giving advice to the court as a senior judge, and argued that the judge who retired due to the expiration of his term cannot be fired, so the judge should be dismissed.

In the criminal trial, which is ongoing separately from the impeachment trial, both the first and second trial courts acquitted former Chief Judge Im not guilty of abuse of power, saying, “I have no authority to intervene in the trial.”

However, the first trial judge pointed out ‘unconstitutional acts that infringe on the independence of judges’, and the second trial judge pointed out ‘inappropriate acts of involvement in the trial’. The case was appealed by the prosecution and is currently pending in the Supreme Court.

[사진 출처 : 연합뉴스]

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