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.