Friday, December 26, 2008

"Stalker judge Yoshiharu Shimoyama fired

"Judge Yoshiharu Shimoyama has been impeached following his conviction under the Anti-Stalking Law for repeatedly e-mailing to a woman.

"The Diet's Judges Impeachment Court stripped 55-year-old Shimoyama, a judge at the Utsunomiya District Court, of his legal license on Wednesday. He is the first judge to be impeached in Japan since a Tokyo High Court judge was dismissed seven years ago after being convicted under the Law for Punishing Acts Related to Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, and the sixth in history.

"House of Councillors member Iwao Matsuda, who presided over the trial, said Shimoyama "has no conscience or dignity as a judge."

""It was outrageous that he sent e-mails to the victim while knowing that his actions constituted a crime. He betrayed the public's trust in him," Presiding Judge Matsuda added.

"The court added that the incident came as a shock to the public and badly damaged the public's trust in the judicial authorities at a crucial time, as Japan prepares to introduce the lay judge system.

"The impeachment court then concluded that his actions fall under immoral conduct that badly damages his dignity as a judge, for which judges can be sacked under the Law for Impeachment of Judges.

"Shimoyama was sentenced in an earlier criminal trial to six months in prison, suspended for two years, for sending a subordinate in her 20s anonymous e-mails, including some of a sexual nature, on 16 occasions between February and March this year. He pleaded guilty to the charges.

"Under Article 78 of the Constitution, judges cannot be dismissed except by public impeachment unless judicially declared mentally or physically incompetent to perform official duties. They can be impeached only if two-thirds or more of the 14 judges in the Diet's Judges Impeachment Court agree on the decision. The Judges Impeachment Court comprises seven members of the House of Representatives and seven from the House of Councillors. Impeached judges cannot appeal the Judges Impeachment Court's decision, and automatically lose their legal licenses and pensions.

"However, judges can ask the Judges Impeachment Court to restore their license five or more years after they are impeached."

By Mainichi Shimbun (12/25/2008), Link to article (last visited 2008/12/26)

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