Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Questioning of Witnesses in Japan by Lay Judges

Setsuko Kamiya, Mansfield Center eyes lay judge debut, Quasi-jury system offers insights for U.S., model for Asia, scholars say, Japan Times (Dec. 29, 2006):
In the U.S. there is an ongoing debate over whether to allow jurors to question witnesses. Under Japan's new system, lay judges will be allowed to pose questions.
I see that some Americans now hope to teach Japanese lawyers the art of (American?) trial advocacy. Id. Is it clear that transmission of this American(?) art to Japan -- or every part of this American(?) art -- is a good thing? Are we witnessing a bit of cultural imperialism or chauvinism? (I ask this question without prejudging the answer.) Does American-style advocacy fit in a system in which (presumably) the main responsibility for interrogating witnesses will remain with judges (professional and lay) rather than with counsel? Or do the American teachers implicitly hope or assume that lawyers rather than judges will come to have the main responsibility for interrogating witnesses? I hope the Japanese customers of American legal pedagogues are aware of the choice they might end up making if they buy the American legal goods that are apparently being peddled.
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