Another day, another curious commentary.
generally bringing six common folk to sit on Japanese juries as “saiban’in”, with three other real judges offering “legal guidance”
"Three other real judges"? So the six common folk are real judges too?
But here’s a lament by the Yomiuri about how those darn lay judges (how belittling; why aren’t they just “jurists”?) are getting in the way.
Regarding the "darn lay judges", Alex at JapanSoc put it best: "A switch to a vernacular use of language to insinuate low intelligence or half-heartedness". Since he pointed that out, I’ve noticed that linguistic trick from Mr Arudou in a lot of his writing.
Regarding lay judges versus jurists, well, they function more as judges, questioning suspects and deciding sentence lengths, not just sitting quietly then passing a guilty or not guilty at the end of the trial like jurists. I also consider that being called a lay judge sounds a lot better than a jurist.
Finally, if you read the article it is not like Mr Arudou implies that the lay judges were finding people fitted up, it was that the prosecution did not present evidence beyond reasonable doubt.
As a bonus, in the comments someone suggests:
Prosecutors can appeal a non-guilty verdict? Scary, I took double jeopardy protection for granted.
I recommend the poster doesn’t move to Holland then.