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Comparative Analysis of Popular Legal Participation in Japan and the U.S.: Differential Perceptions of Actual Jurors and College Students on the System of Lay Participation in Law

NCJ Number
International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice Volume: 33 Issue: 1 Dated: Spring 2009 Pages: 37-59
Hiroshi Fukurai
Date Published
23 pages
This study compared views of lay participation in the administration of law among actual jurors and college students in America and Japan.
Both Japanese and American respondents with experience as jurors expressed positive views of their experience and indicated their willingness to serve again. Both Japanese and Americans with jury experience cited fewer obstacles in fulfilling jury duties and expressed greater confidence in juries’ ability to make fair and just decisions based on facts and evidence compared with respondents who had no jury experience. Japanese respondents who had not served under Japan’s version of a jury system had very little if any knowledge of how the system works and even of its existence in some cases, compared to American respondents without jury experience. Another important finding for both Japanese and American respondents who had participated in jury services was that for a significant number, it resulted in personal changes in their political and social views, including perceptions of their civic duties. Between September 2005 and November 2006, 137 Japanese who had served under that country’s jury system responded to the study questionnaire. In the United States, 2,564 prospective jurors who reported to a county courthouse in Dallas, TX, from March 7 to April 3, 2006, completed the same questionnaire. A total of 1,011 of these respondents indicated they had previously served as jurors. In addition, 623 students at 2 University of California campuses completed the same questionnaire (31 of the students had previous served on juries). In Japan, 607 students from 3 private universities completed the questionnaire between October and December 2005. None of these students had participated in Japan’s jury system. A detailed description of the history of Japan’s quasi-jury and grand jury systems is provided. 4 tables, 6 notes, and 28 references