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The tasks of lay judges

Serving as a lay judge in a court is an honorary task.  It helps to maintain public confidence in judicial administration and is a way for the public to gain insight into the operations of the courts. The varying background and experiences of lay judges give the courts a broad picture of the general conception of justice in   society.  This is particularly valuable for assessment issues, for example, for evaluation of evidence, reasonability issues and choice of sentence.

The obligations of lay judges

Before a lay judge begins to serve he/she should take a judicial oath.  The oath is taken with affirmation upon one's honour and conscience in connection with training for lay judges or during the first meeting in the presence of the court's presiding judge. By taking the judicial oath the lay judge affirms to rule as fairly as possible and to never make any irrelevant considerations.  The lay judge also promises not to disseminate or disclose information revealed during the trial which should not be made public knowledge, for example, that which has been said during the court's private deliberation. By taking the judicial oath the lay judge provides far-reaching assurances to apply Swedish legal rules in his/her adjudication process and not allow personal political views to influence the adjudication process. 

Here you will find frequently asked questions about working as a lay judge.

No, on the contrary. Lay judges are ordinary people. This means that they are not qualified lawyers, but have entirely different occupations. They do not work for the court, but only go there during a trial.

The idea is that they are ordinary people with common sense and experience from different areas, who can complement the legal knowledge and experience of a professional judge.

The task of a lay judge is to work with the presiding judge in applying legal rules in different cases.

Only he or she can do that. No outside party, such as parliament, the government or any other authority, has the right to interfere in how professional judges or lay judges make their decisions. But, just as professional judges, lay judges are naturally obliged to comply with the law in their activities.

Before lay judges start to serve, they must swear a judicial oath. The oath means they promise and declare that they will judge fairly and never be influenced by extraneous considerations. In taking this oath, lay judges give far-reaching assurances that they will apply Swedish legal rules in their judicial activities.

A lay judge takes part in the judging process. The process and work may vary, depending on whether they are related to cases in the general courts or cases in administrative courts.

Generally, it involves a lay judge being called to a hearing or meeting, which includes a presentation of his court. The lay judge is present at the hearing and subsequent deliberations. To give an example, in the main hearing of a criminal case at a district court, the court consists of a professional judge and three lay judges. Just as the professional judge, lay judges are obliged to comply with the law in their judicial activities.

A lay judge also has the right to ask additional questions during the presentation and hearing. After the hearing, possible decisions and views are discussed and viewpoints are expressed, for or against. Normally the discussion results in an agreement on the outcome. If during the deliberations there are different opinions that cannot be resolved, a vote is taken in which the lay judge’s vote carries the same weight as that of the professional judge.

Neither a professional judge nor a lay judge may choose which cases they adjudicate. The court draws lots to determine who will adjudicate in different cases. Work as a lay judge typically requires 10-15 days per year.

A lay judge must observe confidentiality both during time in service as well as after the commission is finished. Confidentiality covers what is said from the deliberation stage until the judgement or decision, as well as the content of the judgement until it is communicated to the parties.

Lay judges are elected to our courts in the municipal council or county borough council after nomination by political parties. If a person wishes to be a lay judge, he or she contacts a political party and puts forward their interest.

The court must dismiss a lay judge who has committed an offence or in another manner has proven to be clearly unsuitable for the commission. A lay judge may also be suspended under certain conditions.

When you have been elected as a lay judge, you are given an introduction by the court where you have your commission. The court also provides materials which give further information about the job as a lay judge, compensation paid and so on.

Senast ändrad: 2012-05-16