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.
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.