Now, as a more familiar subject, let’s move to a discussion of the relationship between the general public and legal trials. This discussion is especially important for people who have a hard time considering legal trials as a familiar subject.
In my legal career, I have handled civil and criminal cases, and also have done jury trials. Although my career as a judge is still relatively short, I believe that legal trials are a familiar part of daily life for many people, not somebody else’s business.
For example, assume that you are subject to misunderstanding or get in trouble. If you are sued, you must take part in a civil lawsuit and become an adverse party, no matter how unreasonable the claim may seem to you. Recently, it is not uncommon to become involved in a traffic accident. When living in society, it is impossible to avoid contact with other people. The world is filled with different values, and there are people who have different ways of thinking and view matters differently than you do. In that respect, everyday life is filled with the possibility of becoming involved in a dispute with others.
Many people may feel that criminal cases have even less to do with them . However, it may not be entirely true. People possess complex feelings and can be vulnerable to emotions. Every person has the potential to get involved in crime due to surrounding conditions such as his/her emotional state, interpersonal relationships, and upbringing and living environments
For example, ignoring red lights or drunk driving is a clear pitfall awaiting the average person. In other words, despite being aware of traffic rules and realizing that ignoring such rules will result in a traffic violation, some people commit a traffic violation for the sake of personal convenience or based on personal judgment: “There are no other cars coming,” “I’m in a hurry,” or “I only drank a little and am fine to drive.” In this way of thinking, it is acceptable to break rules due to the circumstances. Such thinking often leads to a casual attitude toward relatively minor crimes. Even if violations could lead to serious consequences, people are prone to think that “no one will find out” or “it won’t cause any problems” until an accident actually occurs. Such people fail to realize that their logic is nothing more than self-indulgence to rationalize personal desire. Unfortunately, even if they repent upon realizing their errors, they are at risk of suffering significant loss.
As pertains to other crimes, it is human nature to make mistakes when various conditions converge, including strong anger or desire, irrational behavior by other people, severe stress, isolation, or lack of self-control due to inebriation.
According to questionnaires administered to ordinary people who have served as jurors for a jury trial, a relatively high ratio of people responds that it was a good experience. A major reason for this is that serving as a juror is an unusual experience. I also think another reason is that they could realize criminal trials are not always somebody else’s business. I believe this reminds jurors of the great importance of following rules as well as themselves and other people.