Jury vs Saiban-in or 12 Angry Men vs 6 Gentle Japanese

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Mar 7, 2012 23:44
Last week I asked about the judicial system in Japan, but I couldn't explain it well. I tried in vain to talk about the differences between the jury system in the US and the saiban-in system in Japan. I'll try to summarize them here as a consolation match. It's a hard task for me because I'm not familiar with law terms.

The saiban-in (lay judge) system in Japan started about three yeas ago in 2009. Like the jury system in the US, saiban-ins who are selected from the general public participate in trials for the most serious of criminal cases. They, together with professional judges, determine the sentences, including whether the defendant is guilty or not.

The differences are as follows.

cases handled:
saiban-in - the most serious of criminal cases
jury - cases which a defender denied and for which the defender selected a jury trial.

saiban-in - 6 saiban-in and 3 judges
jury - 12 jurors and 1 judge

saiban-in - majority vote (at least 1 judge must agree with the verdict when it is guilty)
jury - unanimous verdict

saiban-in - saiban-in and judges
jury - only jurors

saiban-in - guilty or not guilty and determine sentences
jury - guilty or not guilty only

The followings are almost same.

randomly chosen from voters' list

one trial

Every time I hear the word 'jury' I remember an old famous American movie "12 Angry Men" (1957) and also its parody movie "12 gentle Japanese" (1991).
When the parody movie was created the saiban-in system did not exist yet. The movie was a fantasy about what happens if there was the jury system in Japan.

I respect the central character in "12 Angry Men" who stood up alone for the justice and finally persuaded the rest of jurors with strong reasoning based on the concept of "reasonable doubt". He was a hero. He had the strength. On the other hand, nobody in "12 gentle Japanese" had such strength. There was no rigid belief in the justice. They relied on their feelings and intuitions. But I love them. Sometimes I feel that the angry man was a too righteous person to follow.