Thursday, July 09, 2009

Some Evidence of a Cause of the Concentrated Trial: A Lesson from Japan

Gavin Blair, "A new day for Japanese justice, Here comes the (lay) judge," GlobalPost (June 14, 2009):

In a radical change to Japan's modern justice system, lay judges will now be involved in trials of serious crimes: Six lay judges will sit on the bench alongside three professional judges at trials.

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One beneficial side effect of the changes will likely be a faster criminal justice process, as the current practice of spreading trials out over months, and sometimes years, will end.

“Judges sometimes work on dozens of cases at a time, sitting one day a month on each trial, spending the time between reading case documents,” [Hiroshi] Kawatsu [a trial attorney who heads the Japan Federation of Bar Associations’ (JFBA) Research Office for Judicial Reform] explained. The need for lay judges to return to their normal lives will make this impractical, and Japan is thus adopting a more focused approach to pre-trial procedures and evidence.

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