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NCJ Number: 200839 Find in a Library
Title: Influence of Lay Assessors and Giving Reasons for the Judgement in German Mixed Courts
Journal: International Review of Penal Law  Volume:72  Issue:1-2  Dated:2001  Pages:481-494
Author(s): Christoph Rennig
Date Published: 2001
Page Count: 14
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: France
Annotation: This article focuses on the type of German mixed court that is composed of one professional judge and two lay assessors.
Abstract: In this type of mixed court, called Schoffengerichte, the lay assessors hold a two-third majority and have the power to carry through any kind of decision, even the conviction of a defendant, against the vote of the presiding professional judge. Because deliberations are confidential, it is difficult to measure the frequency of disagreement between lay assessors and professional judges in a reliable way. Anecdotal evidence shows that lay assessors’ chances to prevail tend towards zero if the lay assessors do not hold a common position at the outset of the deliberation. A professional judge in the minority has a good chance to convince one of the two lay assessors. A lay assessor in the minority would rather be convinced by the majority than be convincing himself. A professional judge that has been outvoted by the lay assessors has means to work towards a successful appeal against the judgement if he or she wants to do so. Research should focus on how many of the professional judges act this way when they are in the minority, and why they do this, if they do so at all. Professional judges do not have the power to nullify a decision that has been enforced by the lay assessors, not even if this decision is an obviously false conviction. The giving of reasons for the oral or written judgement by these professional judges can serve as a tool to undermine any judgment that is based on a lay assessors’ majority--not only a conviction, but also an acquittal or a lenient sentence. 30 footnotes
Main Term(s): German Democratic Republic; Mixed court system
Index Term(s): Court personnel; Foreign courts; Judges; Lay judges; Trial procedures; Verdicts
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