The Convergence of Forces
Chapter 5: Overcoming challenges facing the system
Still in its infancy, Japan’s lay judge arrangement and court system naturally face various tests and imperfections. Japan continues to explore solutions to many of these challenges, and would benefit from exploring even more. In any event, the experiment with citizen participation has demonstrated considerable promise and should be further examined for potential expansion. Few civic activities provide the same level of direct contact with government and democracy as jury duty. Aside from voting or political service, there is no activity that is so participatory in nature. In the context of a country with extensive experience, the United States Supreme Court explained in Powers v. Ohio that, ‘with the exception of voting, for most citizens the honor and privilege of jury duty is their most significant opportunity to participate in the democratic process.’ Jury service should be viewed both as a responsibility and privilege. In fact, studies and surveys in the United States have consistently demonstrated not only that most individuals who have served on a jury desire to serve again, but also that jury duty is not viewed as a burden by those who have served.
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