Lay judges get warning letters after Södertälje retrial
The National Courts Administration is to send letters to all of Sweden's 8,600 lay judges reminding them of their responsibilities to review all of their contacts following the recent annullment of a high profile trial in Södertälje and a similar threat hanging over the case of convicted serial shooter Peter Mangs and a drugs trial on Gotland.
In the Södertälje trial, it was discovered on appeal that a lay judge had also served on the local police board and was disqualified. The murder and extortion trial had lasted six months at a cost of over SEK 200 million.
"Because we've seen what has now happened in some places in the country, then there is reason to really remind all lay judges about how incredibly important it is to look over what contacts they had and what could lead to disqualification of any kind," says Director General of The National Courts Administration, Barbro Thorblad, to Swedish Radio News.
Barbro Thorblad emphasizes that it is the responsibility of a lay judge to inform the court about anything that may pose a conflict of interest, but she now feels that people need to be reminded of that responsibility.
Asked by Swedish Radio News whether this has damaged the public's confidence in the justice system, Barbro Thorblad says, " I hope it does not harm confidence in the judiciary."
Last week, opposition councillor and head of the Police Board in Malmö, Anja Sonesson, said that she did not think that lay judges should be able to work criminal cases if they also sat on police boards.