A New Trial System Starts in 2009; the Deaf Involved as Jury

The trial system to involve citizens as jury (lay juror) will start in May, 2009.

The Supreme Court published a guideline on how to provide accommodations to persons with disabilities in May, 2008.

For the person with visual impairement, the document on the procedure to select jurors is translated into braille and sent to him/her.

As well interpreting and/or note-taking will be offered for the deaf and hard of hearing persons during the trial.

In July, a first-ever mock trial was held in Tokyo District Court with a 42-year-old Deaf woman participating as a juror.

During the two-day trial, there were three interpreters provided for her.

The mock trial involved an attempted murder in which a 70-year-old defendant was accused of stabbing a man. The focus was to determine if the defendant premeditated the murder.

After the mock trial, the Deaf juror, who is a full-time instructor of a national training program for interpreters, said, "I am afraid if there are enough qualified interpreters in local areas. Also it may be impossible for a deaf juror to give a comment unless asked during the discussion.

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