Collaboration with the Judicial Branch: Partnering with the Supreme Court of Japan

In spring 2015, CPS was contacted by the Dean of Graduate Studies at PSU, Dr. Margaret Everett, to determine the feasibility of designing and delivering a year-long, research focused program for a court official sent to Portland by the Supreme Court of Japan. One member of the Japanese court staff is selected each year to conduct research in Oregon. Oregon is honored to be the only state to which the Japanese Supreme Court sends its research scholars on an annual basis, and CPS took this unique opportunity to engage in promoting public good through the judiciary.

Historically, CPS’ efforts have been focused on either administrative/executive or legislative areas, making this new partnership with the Supreme Court among CPS’ first experiences coordinating with the judicial branch. This new relationship offered CPS the opportunity to share its unique approach to public service while being enriched by the court officials’ insights.

The first research scholar sent to CPS by the Supreme Court of Japan is Ms. Ayako Matsubayashi. Ayako has been employed as a court officer since 2006 at the Shizuoka District Court and has engaged in assisting court clerks in civil court. After completing the one-year court clerk training at the Training and Research Institute for Court Officials of the Supreme Court of Japan, she was appointed to be a court clerk and served at civil court for two years and criminal court for three years. Ayako received her Bachelor of Law degree from Keio University, one of the most prestigious private universities in Japan.

SCJ Ayako head shot1 (1)

Ms. Ayako Matsubayashi visiting Portland State University from the Supreme Court of Japan

After Ayako achieved her first goal of becoming a court clerk, she decided to apply for the research scholar program in order to become a court clerk who can look at the court systems in Japan more objectively. Ayako believes that observing other court systems will help her to become a better court clerk. Ayako has two major research foci while in Portland. One is to analyze the systems of court interpretation services. Providing high quality court interpretation services is an important universal issue. Ayako believes that because the U.S. is an immigrant nation, it is keen to provide such services in the court system. Her second research focus is to compare the Japanese lay judge system (Saiban-in system) to the U.S. jury system. The Saiban-in system started in Japan about six years ago. Since the U.S. jury system has a longer history, she is eager to learn about how the U.S. courts involve citizens to create a better system.

Ayako will also be spending her time at the Oregon Judicial Department, Fourth Judicial District to conduct her research. The Fourth Judicial District Trial Court Administrator, Ms. Barbara Marcille and her predecessor, Mr. Douglas Bray, have been the champions of this partnership with the Supreme Court of Japan. Before CPS became involved in this partnership, Mr. Bray has welcomed research scholars from the Supreme Court of Japan for over 20 years. Beginning this year, CPS provides an academic home and advising to the research scholar, and the Fourth Judicial District acts as field advisor and provides the real-world cases for the research scholar to study and explore.

Ayako feels very fortunate to be able to conduct her research and spend a year in Portland, Oregon, and CPS feels fortunate to be an organization supporting her experience here. The connection will no doubt lead to additional opportunities for CPS to network within the judicial branch. For now, Ayako hopes to meet as many people as possible and have new experiences during her stay, and; she aspires to advance not only her research focus areas but also to gain better understanding of U.S. cultures. Ayako’s final presentation in June 2016 will be open to the public and cover her research results and experiences in Oregon.