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.

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