Impeachment trial opens for ‘e-stalker’ judge

Kyodo News

The Judges Impeachment Court at the Diet opened Wednesday to determine whether to dismiss a judge convicted of sending harassing e-mail messages to a female subordinate.

Yoshiharu Shimoyama, 55, of the Utsunomiya District Court, owned up to the allegations as the proceedings started, saying, “All (charges) are true.”

The hearing ended the same day. The court is set to rule on Dec. 24.

In August, the Kofu District Court sentenced him to six months in prison, suspended for two years, for sending 16 harassing e-mails to the woman’s cell phone from last February to March in violation of the law against stalking and harassment.

During his trial, Shimoyama said he had “romantic feelings” for the victim.

At the time of the crime, he was head of the Tsuru branch of the Kofu District and Family courts in Yamanashi Prefecture.

The district court ruled that Shimoyama used a fake name to send the e-mails, which suggested the victim was under surveillance, and the presiding judge called his crime “cunning and vicious.”

While declaring that Shimoyama deserved censure for harassing the victim and damaging public trust in the judicial system, his sentence was suspended for two years because he apologized to the victim and because it was highly likely he would be dismissed at an impeachment trial.