skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 161156 Find in a Library
Title: Alternative Form of Lay Participation in Criminal Adjudication: Lay Judge Courts in the Federal Republic of Germany (From Comparative Criminal Justice: Traditional and Nontraditional Systems of Law and Control, P 321-343, 1996, Charles B Fields and Richter H Moore, Jr, eds. -- See NCJ-161138)
Author(s): N T Wolfe
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 23
Sponsoring Agency: Waveland Press, Inc.
Long Grove, IL 60047
Sale Source: Waveland Press, Inc.
4180 IL Route 83
Suite 101
Long Grove, IL 60047
United States of America
Type: Program/Project Description
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This examination of the lay courts of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) considers whether the mixed tribunal fulfills the traditional rationale for lay participation in criminal adjudication and whether it obviates the major criticisms of the Anglo-American trial jury system.
Abstract: In the FRG, a person charged with a petty crime is tried in a local court before a professional judge sitting alone. The defendant can, however, appeal for a rehearing by a tribunal composed of one professional judge and two lay judges. Felonies are tried before a mixed court that consists of three professional judges and two lay judges and also has authority to rehear cases from mixed-bench trials. Major felonies are tried by an extended lay judge court that consists of two professional and two lay judges. Only the most serious crimes, such as treason, are tried before a tribunal of five professional judges without the participation of lay judges. The authority, selection, and function of lay judges who serve on a mixed bench are determined by Title 4 of the Court Organization Code. The statutory mission of lay judges in the juvenile courts is reflected in the establishment of special election procedures for juvenile lay judges in the Juvenile Court Code. Continual interaction of lay judges and professionals in the courtroom throughout the trial and during deliberation allows the lay judges to monitor actions of governmental officials. The ability of lay judges to observe official actions in each step of criminal procedure far exceeds that of Anglo-American jurors, who are excluded from crucial hearings. Nothing in the U.S. Constitution prohibits the incorporation of mixed tribunals in either the Federal or State judicial systems; at least two States (Vermont and New Jersey) have experimented with mixed tribunals. Although the critical role of jurors is emphasized in the American system, their involvement already is diminishing in numerous ways through their elimination in petty offenses, recourse to plea bargaining, or by waiver by the defendant in favor of a bench trial. A 50-item bibliography
Main Term(s): Foreign courts
Index Term(s): Comparative analysis; Germany; Juries; Lay judges
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.