Because Aomori, Japan has a new lay judge system that involves randomly selecting lay judges as well as professional judges for cases, an upcoming rape trial has a women’s group concerned about privacy. According to The Japan Times, Women’s Net Aomori, has petitioned the Aomori District Court to ensure that the victim’s privacy is protected. The group has written a petition that no residents of the area in which the victim lives be listed as candidates for lay judges in the case and that the use of photos in the trial be limited as they might remind the woman of the incident.
The court said it will try its best to keep personal information private in the process of selecting lay judges by initially disclosing only a limited number of the victim’s details, such as her age, to candidates.
If some candidates have an inkling of who the victim might be, they would be questioned by the presiding judge in one-on-one interviews and asked to divulge the name they have in mind, the court said.
Lay judges will have confidentiality obligations, but candidates who end up not being selected will not be punished even if they tell a third person about the case.
Well, I can see where that last bit would be cause for concern if a potential lay judge correctly guessed the identity of the victim, was not picked to serve as judge for that reason, and then went around gabbing, “Oh guess who’s going to be in court claiming she was raped?” I don’t claim to understand their legal system there, but I wonder why lay judges were not held to the same confidentiality standards in terms of identifying victims of crimes.