Tag Archives: lay judges

Japan Introduces New Judicial System

This month Japan introduces a new judicial system which will actively engage citizens in the process of making decisions of guilt or innocence. Under the new system, six randomly chosen people will work with three professional judges to hear a case and reach a verdict, including murder trials and the death sentence. The change is designed to more actively involve Japanese citizens in the entire judicial process and hopefully speed up trials. Under the new system, six lay people will work with three judges to decide the facts in criminal cases. Potential lay judges will be identified from a list compiled by electoral boards within the jurisdiction of each district court. Individuals will be notified in November, they have been selected and at some time during the year they will be called to sit on a trial.

Certain people are automatically disqualified from sitting such as judges, lawyers, police, etc.. or anyone with a criminal record. Only serious crimes will be subject to the new lay system of judges. Employers are required to give employees time off for being judges and the lay people will be paid for their time on the bench.

Japan Experiments With Lay Judge System

Japan is introducing a new system of lay judges who will serve as judges on important cases brought to court. The idea is to more actively engage citizens in the operation of government and make them more aware of responsibilities of being a citizen in a modern society. Under the lay judge system to be introduced in May, 2009,. about half of people who are registered on the list of candidates for being a lay judge may wind up actually sitting as a judge in a court case. The actual number of cases to be tried before lay judges will be about 1,511. According to the process, each district court will pick by lot 50 to 100 people who will be summoned to court to be interviewed by a judge regarding their suitability to serve as a judge.

Some people who received the letter were somewhat surprised, but several said they were now more closely following news in the media in case they would up as a judge in one of the cases. This is an interesting experiment in justice and the results will be fascinating in terms does the prosecution or the defense find the new system more beneficial.

Japan Tries Lay Court Members

A new Japanese law under which citizens will serve as de facto jurors in trials involving serious crimes will go into effect on May 21. The law enacted in 20044, provides for six elgible voters to work with three professional judges at district courts in order to determine a defendant’s guilt, and, if applicable, the sentence. The lay judges will be involved in serious crimes including murder. A recent poll indicates more than 60% of people are interested in taking part in the new process of trial and jury.

Obviously, Japan has never used the Anglo-Saxon model and this appears to be an interesting approach to get citizens involved in the entire judicial process. It will be interesting to witness what happens when the process goes into efect.