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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 200838 Find in a Library
Title: Interaction Between Lay Assessors and Professional Judges in German Mixed Courts
Journal: International Review of Penal Law  Volume:72  Issue:1-2  Dated:2001  Pages:451-479
Author(s): Stefan Machura
Date Published: 2001
Page Count: 29
Type: Legislation/Policy Description
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: France
Annotation: This article discusses the cooperation between professional judges and lay assessors in German mixed courts.
Abstract: In 1996, lay assessors were asked about their experience at the lower criminal courts of Bochum and Frankfurt am Main in Western Germany. The respondents were asked to provide information about their personal background, their opinions about German courts in general, the role of lay persons in the criminal courts, and about how they perceived their last day in court and their general experience as lay assessors. Lay assessors complained about the lack of assembly rooms for them and having to wait in the corridor while exposed to the looks of the people gathering around. The welcoming ceremony in the presiding judge’s chambers was often very brief. Although the vast majority of defendants saw the presiding judge as not being biased against them, 13 percent in Bochum and 14 percent in Frankfurt suspected some bias. Observers of trials regularly note the inaction of the lay assessors. An important reason for lay assessors remaining silent during the trial is their lack of information about the case. Lay assessors are deeply influenced by their evaluations of fairness and justice in the court. The majority of respondents positively rated the presiding judge’s fairness to them as lay assessors as well as the justice of the verdicts. Both groups felt less comfortable about the verdicts as they were satisfied with the fairness in the work relation. The results of the survey also concluded that lay assessors needed better training. Those that nominate candidates for the office of a lay assessor should think more about their individual abilities. Judges should be offered training in fair behavior. Judges with problems working in a group should not act as presiding judge. 4 tables, 69 footnotes, 86 references
Main Term(s): German Democratic Republic; Lay judges
Index Term(s): Court personnel; Foreign courts; Judges; Jury research; Mixed court system; Trial procedures; Verdicts
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