By Hon. John C. Cratsley (Ret.)
Each year the Judicial Process in Community Courts Clinic and class includes judges from Japan and Korea who are enrolled in the LL.M. program providing them the opportunity for an internship with an American trial judge. These student/judges return to judicial work in their home countries with new perspectives from their exposure to the workings of our courts. Their written work often tackles innovative approaches unfolding in the US, such as the growth of specialty courts, restorative justice, and judicial participation in plea bargaining.
“Through discussions with judges and court officials, I could see and understand how the American legal system actually works,” says Takahiko Iwasaki, a judge and former clinic student.
I recently had the opportunity to participate in reunions with my student/judges in both Korea and Japan. My visit to Korea in May included several lectures on ADR and a dinner with eight of my former students.
In June, twenty of my former Japanese students hosted a dinner in Tokyo. Among the guests were student/judges who received their LL.M. degrees going back to 1995 and one judge who flew in from his duties in Okinawa for the event. During our week in Tokyo, these judges arranged for visits to the Supreme Court of Japan, the Tokyo District Court, the Judicial Training Center, and the Sapporo District Court.
After years of discussion of our comparative judicial systems, and particularly the initiation of the jury system in both Japan and Korea, it was particularly meaningful for me to experience the Japanese mixed jury (six citizens and three judges) at work. In fact, one of my former students was a judicial member of the jury panel.