The career and ad hoc judges of the Semarang Corruption Court

Eka Handriana and Yunantyo Adi S. from Suara Merdeka–Central Java’s main broadsheet–recently published a a nice two-part “human interest” article on the Ad Hoc and Career judges of the Semarang Corruption Court.  The articles detail the long hours, poor facilities, intimidation, and relatively meagre benefits that the judges receive, particularly the ad hoc judges who receive only Rp. 12 million ($1,300) a year for housing.  I liked this comment from Judge Shininta:

According to her, deciding cases is difficult if you only look at the prosecutor’s indictment, especially when the indictment is weak. “In principle, I refuse to hide behind a weak indictment. If it is weak, why can’t we as judges strengthen the decision based on the facts of the trial?”

She argues that judges must have the courage to make legal breakthroughs. If it is deemed there is no rule of positive law, but the case harms the people, then the judge must find the law’s balance.

Menurut dia, mengadili perkara akan sulit jika hanya melihat dakwaan jaksa, terlebih jika dakwaan jaksa lemah. ”Prinsipnya, saya tidak akan bersembunyi di balik dakwaan jaksa yang lemah. Kalau memang lemah, kenapa kita sebagai hakim yang memperkuat dengan fakta sidang?” 

Ia berpendapat, hakim harus berani membuat terobosan hukum. Jika dipandang tidak ada aturan hukum positifnya, namun perkara yang ditangani merugikan orang banyak, maka hakim harus mencari pertimbangan hukum.

It’s common for prosecutors to prepare poor indictments, more often because of foul play than the lack of technical capacity.  The article is available here on Adi’s blog and here on Suara Merdeka’s website.

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