The lay judge system, in which randomly selected ordinary citizens serve as lay judges and work alongside professional judges in criminal trials, was introduced 10 years ago this month. Given that it was launched to reflect the views of citizens in court decisions and promote public understanding and trust of the judiciary, the system may be deemed to have had some success. A February survey by the Supreme Court showed that more than 90 percent of the respondents were aware of the lay judge system — an indication of its high public recognition.
The past 10 years under the system have also exposed various problems. To sustain the system with public support, constant efforts must be made to improve the system to fix its problems.
Under the system, six lay judges sit alongside three professional judges and hand down rulings by majority. According to the Supreme Court, a total of some 1.2 million people were selected as lay judge candidates over the past decade, and 90,000 of them actually took part in court proceedings either as a lay judge or as a substitute. The survey found that more than 90 percent of the participants in lay judge trials gave a positive evaluation of their experience.