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Lay judges strict about 'benefit of doubt'
Mariko Sakai, Takashi Maemura and Mayumi Oshige / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writers
Three complete or partial acquittals were handed down in lay-judge trials in June and July, in which the principle of giving the benefit of the doubt to defendants in criminal trials was strictly applied. As a result, some prosecutors believe it is becoming harder and harder to persuade lay judges that defendants are guilty.
There have been about 620 rulings rendered in trials involving lay judges since the launch of the system in May last year. Most were guilty rulings, as the facts of the cases were not in dispute. However, June and July saw sentences of not guilty in trials at the Tachikawa branch of the Tokyo District Court, Chiba District Court and Tokyo District Court.…