A new man for Indonesia’s Supreme Court?

Indonesia’s Supreme Court voted for a new chief justice, and for one some observers seem hopeful. Chief Justice Hatta Ali, formerly a deputy chief justice, won a clear majority of the 54 votes (28, compared to 15 for the next highest vote earner).

Usually, legal analysts point to the Supreme Court as an exemplar the problems with Indonesia’s legal system. However, The Jakarta Globe sounds optimistic in its assessment. Chief Justice Hatta Ali has already pledged to improve judicial quality through training courses during his first 100 days, as well as to address the notorious backlog.

Indra, a DPR MP who sits on Commission III (legal affairs), suggested Chief Justice Hatta Ali look to the Constitutional Court as a model for speeding up case processing. However, the Supreme Court’s backlog is an order of magnitude larger than the Constitutional Court’s (22,000 vs. just over 100 last time I checked). Moreover, the Constitutional Court’s jurisdiction is limited and it can always dismiss cases for lack of standing, whereas the Supreme Court has general jurisdiction. As such, while I certainly wish Chief Justice Hatta Ali good luck, I don’t yet see a viable plan to bring the docket under control.

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