Voices of Anxiety
By BOB HERBERT
President Obama may be sanguine, but the same cannot be said of the general public, including some of his most ardent supporters.
Courtroom sketches capture historic images
Since cameras are not allowed during court proceedings, artists instead make sketches to depict courtroom scenes. Usually, court artists draw close-ups of the defendants to satisfy public curiosity.
Never before had they focused so much on anonymous ordinary citizens as in the last few days.
The nation's first trial under the citizen judge system was held at the Tokyo District Court from Monday through Thursday. The vernacular Asahi Shimbun also ran well-rendered sketches by Manabu Ikeda on each day of the trial.
Citizen judges, called by number and whose images will go down in history in these sketches, seem to have played a significant role.
On the first day, 47 of the 49 people who were summoned showed up for the drawing of lots. Citizen judge No. 4, a woman in a white blouse, was the first one to ask a question in court. Her historic question started with "Um," but it turned out to be a good one: She asked about a discrepancy between a witness's testimony and a written statement. All six citizen judges asked questions of the defendant and agreed to attend a news conference after the trial.
The case concerned the murder of a woman by a man who was her neighbor. Since the defendant had pleaded guilty and both the prosecution and the defense more or less agreed on the facts, the main question at issue was the perpetrator's level of murderous intent.
Both sides refrained from using hard-to-understand courtroom jargon, and made a serious effort to clearly state their case.
Midway through the trial, judge No. 3, a woman, was excused because she caught a cold. She was replaced by No. 7, a man.
The case was relatively straightforward. The citizens cooperated, and, for good measure, one of the members had to be replaced. The trial turned into a textbook example.
Be that as it may, we cannot take trials lightly. This is all the more true because these judges are ordinary citizens. The lay judges were perplexed by ambiguous testimony and were upset to hear the voices of the victim's family and the accused.
Judge No. 6, a man, admitted that he found the trial fatiguing, but said it was a much different kind of fatigue than he felt at his job.
Unlike in blurry courtroom sketches, the heavier the sentence, the deeper the memory of having judged another human being will remain in a citizen judge's mind.
Thus, an attempt to incorporate the common sense of ordinary people in the justice system has begun. Although it started smoothly, we can foresee the anguish of "judge No. X."
--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 7(IHT/Asahi: August 8,2009)
- Of the color of blood; red.
- Of a healthy reddish color; ruddy: a sanguine complexion.
- Having blood as the dominant humor in terms of medieval physiology.
- Having the temperament and ruddy complexion formerly thought to be characteristic of a person dominated by this humor; passionate.
- Cheerfully confident; optimistic.
[Middle English, from Old French sanguin, from Latin sanguineus, from sanguis, sanguin-, blood.]sanguinely san'guine·ly adv.
sanguineness san'guine·ness or san·guin'i·ty n.'
WORD HISTORY The similarity in form between sanguine, “cheerfully optimistic,” and sanguinary, “bloodthirsty,” may prompt one to wonder how they have come to have such different meanings. The explanation lies in medieval physiology with its notion of the four humors or bodily fluids (blood, bile, phlegm, and black bile). The relative proportions of these fluids was thought to determine a person's temperament. If blood was the predominant humor, one had a ruddy face and a disposition marked by courage, hope, and a readiness to fall in love. Such a temperament was called sanguine, the Middle English ancestor of our word sanguine. The source of the Middle English word was Old French sanguin, itself from Latin sanguineus. Both the Old French and Latin words meant “bloody,” “blood-colored,” Old French sanguin having the sense “sanguine in temperament” as well. Latin sanguineus was in turn derived from sanguis, “blood,” just as English sanguinary is. The English adjective sanguine, first recorded in Middle English before 1350, continues to refer to the cheerfulness and optimism that accompanied a sanguine temperament but no longer has any direct reference to medieval physiology.