Hiroshi Fukurai is Professor of Legal Studies and Sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He won the UCSC’s Chancellor’s Achievement Award for Diversity in 2014 and the Service Recognition Award in 2015. He was nominated for Excellence in Teaching Award in 2012 and selected as the Favorite Faculty Member by Stevenson College graduating students in 2013. He was also voted into the President-Elect of the Asian Law and Society Association (ALSA) in 2015. His expertise includes citizen participation in the justice system, international law, race and inequality, East Asian law and politics, and military and justice. He has more than 100 publications including scholarly articles, law reviews, op-ed pieces, magazine articles, and books. His seven books are indicative of his commitment to adjudicative justice and equality in law; Nuclear Tsunami: Japanese Government and American Role in Fukushima Disaster (2015); Japan and Civil Jury Trials: The Convergence of Forces (2015); Race in the Jury Box: Affirmative Action in Jury Selection (2003), Anatomy of the McMartin Child Molestation Case (2001), Race and the Jury: Racial Disenfranchisement and the Search for Justice (1993, Gustavus Meyers Human Rights Award), and Common Destiny: Japan and the U.S. in the Global Age (1990). He was voted into a LSA Board of Trustee in 2010. He currently serves as a co-editor of a book volume on civil jury trials that took place in Okinawa from 1964 to 1972, and two original books on the socio-theoretical approach to the popular jury and the historical genealogy of Japan’s grand jury system. He is an inaugural member of the new Asian Law and Society Association (2015) and on the editorial board of its journal, Asian Journal of Law & Society (Cambridge U. Press).
The purpose of this proposal is to conduct research on Japan' s new legal system, called the "Saiban-in Seido (Quasi-Jury)" and make a comparative analysis of public participation in the legal system of Japan and the U.S. This is a unique and important moment in the history of the Japanese legal system, as the Japanese government is currently drafting a bill to create this new legal decision making body and revise the Code of Japanese Criminal Procedure. Modeling after the popular jury system currently used in more than 20 countries in the world, this new judicial system is designed to allow ordinary citizens to directly participate in the legal decision making process in Japanese criminal courts. The Japanese Government hopes to introduce the new quasi-jury system and begin its first trial in 2009.By introducing lay participation into its criminal courts, Japan has taken a major step that will enrich the quality of justice, as well as the quality of democratic life of Japanese citizens who participate as quasi-jurors. In order to examine whether popular participation is effective to democratize the criminal process and to build broader public confidence and support in the system of justice, individuals who have participated in a civic legal decision making process are to be contacted and interviewed in both Japan and the U.S. Japan has a law of the Inquest of Prosecution (aka, the Prosecutorial Review Commissions) to publicly examine prosecutorial decisions on the indictment . It is pursued annually by the review commission, which is composed of a group of randomly chosen citizens from the local community. The purpose of the review commission is similar to that of America' s civil grand jury (not a criminal grand jury) which has the authority to examine and inspect the functioning of local public offices, including those of the DA' s office, local jails and prisons, county government, among others. While the review commission' s decision has not been given legally binding authority, the 2002 legal reform gave the board's decisions the binding power to initiate changes in prosecutorial decision making. It has also been reported that the civic legal participation in the review commission has also led to an increasing awareness of the importance of their civic duties and greater confidence in the system of government . In order to examine the possible effect of civic legal participation between Japan and the U.S., individuals who participated in Japan' s review commission and America' s jury trials will be asked in this study to respond to a set of questions in order to compare their experiences in the legal decision making. My two Japanese collaborators and scholars will provide crucial assistance to identify and interview past members of the prosecutorial review commission in Japan. In the U.S., jurors will be also contacted, and their views on their legal participation will be examined. We hope that the experience by American jurors and Japanese review commission members will substantiate that civic legal participation leads to greater public confidence and greater acceptance of verdict legitimacy, and that people' s direct involvement will lead to greater confidence and awareness of the importance of civic legal participation in the criminal process. We also plan to examine whether or not the legal participation advances the system of checks and balances relations between the broad public and the criminal justice system. Finally, the findings will be applied to the quasi-jury system in order to understand how citizens will respond to civic legal participation in criminal court and formulate policy-related suggestions and recommendations to democratize the Japanese court.