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00707012
2011.7
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KOREAN

Korean Prosecutors Network across the Pacific  The First U.S.-Korea Criminal Law Forum  The Korean Prosecutors Association (KPA) hosted the first-ever U.S.-Korea Criminal Law Forum on May 20-21, in Los Angeles, California. The two-day forum, sponsored by the Korea Foundation, provided a great opportunity for Korean-American prosecutors from around the United States and prosecutors from Korea to share knowledge and experience and network for professional camaraderie.



The Korean Prosecutors Association (KPA) was founded on August 27, 2010, in Los Angeles, California, as a first-of-its-kind non-profit organization aimed at promoting interaction among its members, offering mentorship to law students, and serving the Korean-American community by providing information and education on matters related to public safety. Its membership is comprised of Korean-American prosecutors serving at municipal, county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, public prosecutors from Korea, and Korean-American judges who have formerly served as prosecutors.

There are nearly 90 Korean-American prosecutors in Los Angeles and southern California, while the next largest jurisdiction is the New York area with some 25 prosecutors of Korean descent. Other members are based in Colorado, Hawaii, Minnesota, and Washington. In addition, John Choi, the first Korean-American ever elected a public prosecutor in the United States, is an honorary KPA member. He was recently elected as the Ramsey County Attorney in the state of Minnesota.

Insightful Discussion

The forum got underway with a reception, held on the evening of May 20, at Bann Restaurant in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles. Among the some 60 guests were Howard Halm and Tammy Chung Ryu, judges at the Los Angeles Superior Court, and Kwon Ik-hwan, director of the Prosecution Service Division of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Korea. The Korea Times and the JoongAng Daily were among the local media that covered the event, interviewing guests and taking group photos of participants.

Insightful Discussion image1On May 21, a full-day session was held at the Loyola Law School. The session began with congratulatory remarks by KPA President Jerry Baik and Dean Victor Gold of the Loyola Law School, followed by a video message from John Choi, the county attorney of Ramsey and an honorary member of the KPA.

The forum’s first presentation compared the U.S. jury trial system with Korea’s newly introduced advisory jury system. The presentation invited a number of questions from the floor. The Korean-American prosecutors were curious about the Korean jury system as well as the authority granted to public prosecutors in Korea in regard to such matters as search and seizure, witness interrogation, and physical detention.

The second subject concerned ways to develop and maintain collaborative relationships between the Korean-American and Korean prosecutors. The panel was jointly led by a Korean-American deputy district attorney and a Korean public prosecutor. The session also heard a presentation on the annual conference of the International Association of Prosecutors, scheduled to be held in Seoul in late June, by a Korean public prosecutor presently serving as legal officer for the South Korean Permanent Mission to the United Nations. The session was followed by a lunch break at the student lounge of the Loyola Law School.

The afternoon session opened with a presentation on financial crimes, the forum’s third topic. The panel comprised Korean-American prosecutors serving as an assistant U.S. attorney and a deputy district attorney, a Korean public prosecutor, and a Korean-American agent at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The panel was moderated by the chief of the Major Frauds Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. The FBI agent discussed how he launches an investigation and how he cooperates with prosecutors. A Korean public prosecutor on the panel stole the spotlight with his well-organized explanation of Korean criminal procedures, skillfully using PowerPoint and chalkboard.

The final topic was domestic violence, an issue of growing social concern in both countries. The panel included a Korean-American deputy district attorney and a deputy city attorney, a Korean-American judge at the Los Angeles Superior Court, and a Korean public prosecutor. The deputy city attorney introduced “Darla,” a therapy dog trained to treat children who have witnessed violence in their families. The panel scrutinized notable changes in the penal systems of the two countries by citing the O.J. Simpson murder trial as an example, thereby bringing renewed attention to the long-taboo subject of domestic violence.

Insightful Discussion image1


Professional Cooperation and Friendship

In the wake of the final session, the representatives of the KPA and Korea’s Ministry of Justice signed a memorandum of understanding calling for sustained efforts by the two organizations to enhance cooperative relations, maintain regular contact, and exchange knowledge and information.
A dinner at the Wilshire Grand Hotel, in the central downtown area of Los Angeles, wrapped up the forum. Among the notable guests were Korean Consul General Shin Yeon-sung, Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen A. Trutanich, Pasadena City Attorney Michele Bagneris, and Orange County District Attorney Susan Kang Schroeder.

The forum was deemed an overwhelming success, which far exceeded everyone’s expectations and created positive momentum for collaborative ties between Korean prosecutors on both sides of the Pacific.

Jerry C. Baik, President
Korean Prosecutors Association;
Supervising Assistant City Attorney
Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office

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