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Facts about lay judges in Norway’s courts

(AP) – Confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik is being tried by a panel of two professional judges and three lay judges. Here’s a look at the role of lay judges in Norway’s courts.

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WHAT LAY JUDGES ARE

Lay judges are normal Norwegian citizens picked by municipalities for four-year terms. Their names are entered into a large pool from which the court randomly selects judges for each case. The system is designed to give ordinary people a role in the Norwegian judiciary, with lay judges participating on an equal basis as professional judges in deciding guilt or innocence and sentencing.

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WHO CAN BECOME A LAY JUDGE?

Lay judges have to be Norwegian citizens. A person who has been sentenced to prison in the past 10 years cannot become a lay judge, nor can members of the Norwegian government, lawyers, religious leaders, or people employed by the courts, prosecution authorities, the police and the prison authority.

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HOW DO THEY PREPARE FOR TRIAL?

All lay judges are coached about their role in an informational video before each case and meet professional judges before a trial to discuss if there’s any risk they might be biased or otherwise not suited to preside over any individual case.

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