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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 200831 Find in a Library
Title: Lay Judges in Sweden: A Short Introduction
Journal: International Review of Penal Law  Volume:72  Issue:1-2  Dated:2001  Pages:313-316
Author(s): Christian Diesen
Date Published: 2001
Page Count: 4
Type: Legislation/Policy Description
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: France
Annotation: This article describes the lay judge system in Sweden.
Abstract: Lay judges have always taken part in the administration of justice in Sweden. Lay judges, elected by the people, have been members of the local courts for more than a thousand years. The jury system was introduced into the system only in cases concerning freedom of the press. The number of lay judges in the local courts has been reduced gradually from 12 to 3. Since 1971, lay judges participate in the proceedings of Court of Appeal as well as the administrative courts. In 1983 lay judges of all courts received an individual voting right, which put them on an equal footing with a professional judge. All criminal cases and family law cases are decided by one professional judge and three lay judges. They are elected by the political parties in proportion to the votes for the county council for a period of 4 years. Every citizen above the age of 18 is eligible. The task of the lay judge is to deliver a judgment. The professional judges of the higher courts may overrule the majority decisions of the local courts. Research shows that lay judges behave very passively during the deliberation process and that verdicts in which the lay majority outvotes the professional judge are very rare. The lay judges tend to find the defendant guilty, or require a more severe punishment than the professional judge, who tends to want to free the accused or give a more lenient sentence. Lay judges have high self-esteem and think they exert important influence on the decisions, despite the fact that the professional judge plays a primary role during deliberations. Other findings concerning the judging ability of lay judges show that demographic factors cannot be traced in the final verdict; and individual experiences and attitudes can have a significant impact on the vote of an individual judge. 1 footnote
Main Term(s): Lay judges; Sweden
Index Term(s): Court personnel; Foreign courts; Judges; Juries; Trial procedures; Verdicts
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