The Participation of Non-Lawyers in the Criminal Justice Procedure: Jury, Magistrates, and Schoefrichter

Mr Masamichi Itatsu (LL.M. at Faculty of Law)

Sunday, 21 April, 2002; 7:30-9:30pm

Chetwynd Room, King's College

Each country has its own criminal justice system, and the contents of the system are different from those of other countries. In particular, the decision-making powers of non-lawyers in the criminal procedure, namely making decisions on guilty and on the sentencing, vary between many jurisdictions. England and Wales, for instance, adopt the jury system. Under the jury system, randomly selected twelve laypersons decide whether the defendant is guilty or not. Furthermore, there are 'magistrates' in England and Wales. Magistrates are appointed from the public and deal with less serious criminal cases. They have powers not only to decide whether a defendant is guilty or not but also to make decision on the sentencing. Germany adopts the different system, named 'Schoefrichter', where professional judges and laypersons deliberate and make decisions both on guilty and on the sentence together. On the other hand, Japan does not adopt these systems, although there was a jury system during around two decades before the World War Two. At present, professional judges make all decisions in the Japanese criminal procedure. Some argue that Japan should adopt a system of popular participation. In the meeting, we will discuss the following points. Why does each country have different system concerning the participation of the public in the criminal procedure? Should non-lawyers participate in the decision-making process, such as the decision on guilty and on the sentence? Does a jury system, a magistrate, or the combined panel, such as 'Schoerichter', prevent miscarriages of justice? Should Japan adopt a system where not legally qualified people participate in making decisions on guilty and on the sentence?