Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Relations between Lay and Professional Judges in Germany

See the following fascinating article on the relationships between lay and professional judges in Germany: Stefan Machura, Interaction between lay assessors and professional judges in German mixed courts, Vol. 72 –2001/1-2, Revue internationale de droit pĂ©nal

I regret to report that this article documents the thoroughgoing dominance of lay judges in mixed courts by professional judges. This is in itself not surprising. What is interesting about the article is its very careful and detailed account of the mechanisms by which this judicial dominance is maintained. For example, professional judges, though legally required to give the lay judges an opportunity to ask questions, do so in a way that does not encourage the lay judges to ask questions; and, in any event, the lay judges are usually not familiar with the case file and can't ask useful questions even if they might want to do so. But read the article, a fascinating statistical-sociological study! I may make it required reading in one or more of my courses.

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