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.