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Citizen judges


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
I wasn't aware of the fact that the Japanese legal system does not provide for lay participation in its criminal justice process (lay assessors, juries). Democracy-wise lay participation is a good thing, but it can easily turn into a double-edged sword.

Panel eyes having citizens collaborate with judges in trials

The government's task force on judicial reform on Tuesday unveiled a tentative plan promoting public participation in the nation's judicial system by having private citizens collaborate with judges in criminal and other trials and jointly render a verdict. [...] Under the plan, members of the public would be chosen at random from eligible voters and then screened by judges. They would be given the same authority as judges to determine verdicts. Employers would not be allowed to refuse leave to workers selected as citizen "judges" who ask for time off to participate in a trial. The plan calls for either three judges to work jointly with two or three citizens or one or two judges to collaborate with nine to 11 citizens.

=> http://www.japantoday.com/e/?content=news&cat=2&id=252365

Japan unveils proposals for first experiment with jury system

=> Yahoo News - Latest News & Headlines
Hmm... interesting indeed although I suspect the system may not be as similar as such to the jury system that we have here in America for example. Consider this:

"It also proposes that private citizens only be bound by the Constitution and law in exercising their authority"

That statement may certainly be open to interpretation but I am curious as to what degree of discretion citizen participants will be afforded in this capacity towards actual decision-making. Furthermore, will they have actual input or are they merely there as window dressing for the Judges themselves... I do agree though that the tentative approach they've employed to date is most likely the best and it will be interesting to see how this plays out in their Judicial system.
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