Evaluating Japan’s New Jury System

Winter 2009

The Columbia Law School Center for Japanese Legal Studies recently hosted a panel discussion on the strengths and potential pitfalls of Japan’s new Saiban-in, or “lay judge,” system. The panel, moderated by Professor Curtis Milhaupt ’89, the center’s director, included Law School professors, as well as legal professionals from Japan.

Under the new system, defendants charged with serious crimes will be tried by a panel of six jurors and three judges, who will rule on both guilt and sentencing by a simple majority.

While panelists presented pros and cons, audience member Jesse Gillespie ’09 recognized a unique opportunity to gather empirical evidence. “It’s not every day you see a country experiment with changes in criminal justice,” he noted.