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What do you think of the lay jury system in Japan so far?

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The judiciary is the most important institution in Western democracy, yet just like the other arms of government, it is improperly conceived or framed. Reason is not the standard of value in the judiciary, just as it is not in the executive and legislative arms of government. The failure of participants to provide reasoned outcomes is a product of flawed philosophical values. The problems which manifest from these values is referred to as 'judicial activism', the notion that judges are stepping outside of their 'standing'. Nothing could be further from the truth. refer to www.judicialanalytics.com.

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Not much, since it is only being used in cases where the defendant has already pleaded guilty. I want to see a lay jury judge a case where the defendant has not pleaded guilty, and then determine guilt or innocence based on the evidence presented in court.

I wonder if any juror will have the gumption to ask a defendant if the police forced a confession out of him/her.

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It is only a waste of time and energy for citizens. The old system was much better.

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I agree with "smartacus". The true test will come when it's a murder trial where the accused pleads not guilty. Frankly, I think the Japanese lay jury system is terrible. The fact that the lay jury has to decide the punishment is crazy and that they are sworn to a life time of secrecy is ridiculous!!!

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Jury rigged.

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At best you could call this a much needed reform in terms of how criminal proceedings are conducted in Japan.

At worst (and much more cynically), you could argue that these jury trials are little more than show trials because of the following reasons.

Firstly, as my colleagues above have indicated, the issue of guilt or innocence is not being considered, as such, the law itself is not on trial as it often is in countries where case law has a significant impact on the interpretation of written statutes. The only role the jury have in Japan at the moment is to decide (along with the presiding judge) on the length of any punishment meted out. As such, the whole process is entirely different from "jury trials" in a western sense in which prosecutors try to convince an impartial jury of guilt beyond reasonable doubt, while defense council argue their clients innocence. Under the current system in Japan, the defendant has already admitted guilt before the jury sees them.

Secondly, there seems to be a subtle exercise of bait and switch being used by the powers-that-be. On one hand, people are being encouraged to participate in the new jury process, but on the other hand they are being spoon-fed by the system in terms of how the jury phase of trials is conducted. What I mean by this is that the whole legal process is being dumbed-down so that jurors can "understand" what is happening. I think this demeans both the jurors and it also raises questions regarding impartiality and what is actually read into cases as factual evidence. Trials are also being tightly scheduled in order to keep things moving, which in itself discourages jurors for asking questions or "deviating from the hymn book". Jury trials are also trying to be all inclusive by introducing submissions by next of kin and interested parties as to the severity of sentence to be imposed. This deviates from the jury system in other countries where such submissions are generally made directly to the presiding judge who has sole power regarding the application of the law in cases where a party has already been found guilty by their peers.

The net result of all these issues is that the jury system in Japan could be seen as being perverted to the point that it becomes a little more than window dressing that attempts to rubber stamp decisions already made by those in power.

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Give it at least a year before trying to analyze in detail its merits/demerits.

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Pathat has spoken. What he said.

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Agreed, and as tim pointed out regardless of its flaws the system needs reform and it's only going to come through step by step evolution. It's possible the jury system is simply part of that evolution, in that if it is successful for its limited scope (determining punishment) then it can be expanded for determining guilt.

Our current system of justice took more than 2000 years to evolve, ironically the biggest breakthroughs and reforms happening in very narrow spurts such as in Roman times and Revolutionary times.

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To be fair, democracy itself is regularly perverted as window dressing as well. Every mistake and failure of a nation can be rightfully impuned upon its people.

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I agree with a number of opinions here, but mainly with two.

1) We're not going to see how well the jury system really performs until jurors are faced with a defendant who has plead, "Not Guilty." Until then, there hasn't really yet been a good demonstration of the Public's ability to judge its peers in a legal setting.

2)With 1) in mind, it's still too soon to tell.

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Oh, damn. Perfect window, and I missed it. Should've posted:

"Dunno'. The jury's still out."

Sigh . . .

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Agree, there has been no test of a real jury until a jury hears a case where the defendant pleads not guilty.

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There is Justice if you are Japanese, else you are just treated as someone lower than Japanese..

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we never should have imported this. I used to live in the U.S. and I am not sure how many false accusation cases I heard about while I was there.

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What do false accusation cases have to do with the concept of a jury system?

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