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2014年7月29日 (火)

裁判員判決破棄 量刑の公平性重視した最高裁

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Supreme Court places importance on fairness in meting out sentences
裁判員判決破棄 量刑の公平性重視した最高裁

The Supreme Court’s recent ruling in a child abuse case clearly indicated its position that precedents must be duly taken into consideration when deciding on the severity of punishment for the accused.
 被告の刑を決めるにあたり、過去の裁判例をきちんと考慮すべきだという最高裁の姿勢を明確に示した判決である。

The top court drastically reduced the punishment meted out to two parents charged with inflicting bodily injury resulting in the death of their physically abused 20-month-old daughter.
 最高裁が、1歳8か月の娘を虐待死させたとして、傷害致死罪に問われた両親の刑を大幅に軽減した。

The original ruling—decided with lay judges participating—ordered prison terms of 15 years for the parents, five years longer than the prosecution had demanded. This was subsequently upheld by the Osaka High Court.
 検察側求刑の1・5倍の懲役15年を言い渡した裁判員裁判の1審と、それを支持した2審の判決を破棄し、父親を懲役10年、直接的には暴力を振るわなかった母親は懲役8年とした。

The two courts’ decisions, however, were rejected by the Supreme Court, which instead handed down a 10-year prison term for the father and an eight-year sentence for the mother, who did not directly use violence against her daughter.
 懲役15年の刑は、著しく均衡を欠き、重すぎるとの判断だ。

According to the top court, the 15-year prison terms were extremely unbalanced and too severe, and it changed for the first time a ruling made in a trial in which lay judges took part. “Even if the decision was made in a trial with lay judges, it must be equitable to those of other trials,” the ruling said.
 量刑不当を理由に、最高裁が裁判員裁判の結論を見直すのは初めてである。判決は、「裁判員裁判といえども、他の裁判の結果との公平性を保たなければならない」と指摘した。

If the severity of punishment in similar cases differs, it could adversely affect the public’s trust in the judiciary. It is understandable for the court of last resort to act as a check to emphasize fairness in assessing the culpability of suspects.
 同種事件の判決で、刑の重さが極端に異なれば、国民の司法に対する信頼が揺らぎかねない。最高裁が最終審としてのチェック機能を果たす立場から、量刑の公平性を重視したのは理解できる。

In the first trial at the Osaka District Court, professional and lay judges acknowledged the case revolved around the parents’ habitual abuse of their child and concluded that child abuse—one of the biggest social issues—should be dealt with by meting out punishments more rigorous than before.
 1審・大阪地裁の裁判員裁判は、両親の常習的な虐待が事件の背景にあったと認定し、大きな社会問題となっている児童虐待には、今まで以上に厳しい刑で臨むべきだと結論づけた。

Convincing grounds needed

The top court, however, stressed that “courts need to present convincing grounds when imposing heavier punishments than conventionally handed down.” This means the Osaka District Court’s ruling had not offered sufficient grounds for meting out such sentences.
 これに対し、最高裁は「従来の傾向から踏み出す重い刑を科す場合、説得力のある根拠を示す必要がある」と強調した。1審判決では、根拠についての言及が不十分だったということだ。

The top court’s ruling also called for professional and lay judges to consider the severity of sentences based on accumulated data on punishments—an instruction that will have a major impact on lay judge trials in future.
 最高裁は今回、蓄積された量刑データを目安として、裁判官と裁判員が被告の刑を検討するよう求めた。今後の裁判員裁判に大きな影響を与えるだろう。

However, it should be noted that the purpose of the lay judge system is to reflect the people’s perspectives and social common sense in criminal trials, which previously had been solely handled by legal experts.
 ただ、裁判員制度の趣旨は、法律の専門家だけが担ってきた刑事裁判に、国民の視点や社会常識を反映させることにある。

If judges always have to decide on the severity of punishments based on precedent, the introduction of the lay judge system will lose its meaning.
 先例ばかりにとらわれて、刑を決めていては、制度導入の意義が失われかねない。

It was predicted all along that the system’s introduction would result in certain deviations in the severity of sentences.
 そもそも、裁判員制度の導入で、量刑にある程度の幅が出ることは、想定されていた。

Generally heavier punishments have been handed down for sex offenders at lay judge trials, compared to those decided by professional judges alone. This is a manifestation of citizens’ abhorrence of despicable crimes.
 実際、性犯罪事件に関しては、裁判官裁判の時代と比較して、全般的に重い刑が言い渡される傾向が見られる。卑劣な犯罪を憎む市民感覚の表れと言える。

It is important to factor in ordinary people’s feelings in court decisions, while maintaining fairness in punishments.
 重要なのは、刑の公平性を維持しつつ、市民感覚を判決に生かしていくことである。

Professional judges should spare no efforts in explaining to lay judges how important it is to reach a judgment without basing decisions excessively on intuition and sympathy. They should then try to seek appropriate conclusions in trials.
 裁判官には、直感や情に偏った判断を排すことの大切さを裁判員に丁寧に説明し、適切な結論を探る努力が求められる。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 28, 2014)

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