Oct 24, 2014

Bill would keep lay judges from handling lengthy trials

The Abe administration offered its backing on Friday for a bill that would keep lay judges from handling lengthy trials. The first-ever amendment to the law covering the lay judge system would leave such criminal trials solely to professional judges. The bill does not ...

Jul 29, 2014

Reflecting citizens' views on justice

Japan's Supreme Court decision to reduce the prison terms of a couple convicted of fatally abusing their daughter highlights the difficulty in balancing the need, on one hand, to have ordinary citizens' views reflected in criminal trials through their participation as lay judges and, ...

May 21, 2014

Top court says lay judge system working well at five-year mark

Nearly 50,000 people have participated as principal or alternate lay judges in criminal trials under the system introduced five years ago, the Supreme Court said. The total stood at 49,434 as of March 31, comprising 36,837 principal lay judges and 12,597 supplementary judges, who ...

May 5, 2014

Improving the lay judge system

As Japan's lay judge system turns 5 years old, the Justice Ministry's Legislative Council is considering excluding citizens from the duty of serving as lay judges when trials are expected to last more than a year.

Mar 21, 2014

Lay judges' moral dilemma

How does Japan's justice minister respond to a petition from 20 citizens who, as lay judges, agonized over the possibility of having to hand down a death sentence? They call for an immediate halt to capital punishment.

Oct 23, 2013

Top court voids acquittal of British drug smuggler

The Supreme Court has quashed an appeal by a British man convicted of smuggling stimulant drugs into Japan from the west African country of Benin in June 2010, letting stand a high court’s overturning of his acquittal in a lay judge trial. Robert Geoffrey ...

Lay judges get a peek at prison life

Jun 6, 2013

Lay judges get a peek at prison life

by Setsuko Kamiya

When lay judges hand down a prison term, many focus on the merits of the case itself and not about the life behind bars that awaits the guilty. One group of citizens who served as lay judges in criminal trials, however, took a tour ...

Apr 30, 2013

Stressful hearings for lay judges

The case of the woman lay judge in her 60s who suffered a stress disorder after viewing a photo of a horrific crime scene underscores the weak psychological support for lay judges.