Courts and Transition in Russia: The Challenge of Judicial Reform

By Peter H. Solomon Jr.; Todd S. Foglesong | Go to book overview

Preface

Most students of democratization and the transition to a market economy in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union envisage the development of a strong legal order, if not actually a "rule of law," as a vital and necessary ingredient of liberal political and economic change. Yet these writers have little to say about the processes through which such law and legal institutions develop, not to speak of a political culture featuring respect for law. 1 Clearly, the accomplishment of a "legal transition," from bureaucratic-authoritarian law to at least rule by law (the rechtsstaat), is a complicated, multidimensional, and lengthy process, involving institutional and cultural change as well as changes in the laws themselves. At the center of legal transition stand the courts, the bodies that execute the law and, ideally, administer justice at the same time.

In post-Soviet Russia politicians and legal officials alike have recognized the importance of strong and independent courts for the achievement of larger policy goals, and from 1992 have pursued a major program of judicial reform. The authors of this study seek to contribute to the realization of that program. They do this by first analyzing the state and operation of courts in Russia and the progress of their reform since the end of Soviet power, and then on this basis outlining what can and should be done to make courts in Russia autonomous, powerful, reliable, efficient, accessible, and fair. The authors, both Western specialists on Russian law and legal institutions, speak at one and the same time to two audiences -- Westem jurists, especially those involved in organizations in a position to contribute to judicial reform in Russia; and Russian legal and political officials, the persons whose actions directly shape the nature of courts and the judiciary in their country.

We are all too aware of the delicacy of our position, but hope that our approach to this undertaking will make our analysis credible and useful. In studying courts in Russia, we try to avoid an ethnocentric preference for Anglo-American ideals, such as adversarialism; and to compare the

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Courts and Transition in Russia: The Challenge of Judicial Reform
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables and Figures vii
  • Preface ix
  • Notes xii
  • Part One - Courts and Their Reform in Post-Soviet Russia 1
  • 1 - Judicial Reform in Russia: Politics and Policies 3
  • Notes 20
  • Part Two - Building Judicial Institutions 27
  • Notes 28
  • 2 - The Independence of Courts and Judges 29
  • Notes 43
  • 3 - The Autonomy and Accountability of Trial Court Judges 47
  • Notes 61
  • 4 - Jurisdiction, Power, and Prestige 67
  • Notes 85
  • 5 - Staffing the Courts: Recruitment and Training 92
  • Notes 108
  • Part Three - Improving Performance 111
  • Notes 112
  • 6 - The Administration of Justice: Simplification and Efficiency 114
  • Notes 135
  • 7 - Criminal Justice: the Pre-Trial Phase 142
  • Notes 157
  • 8 - Civil and Commercial Judgments: the Problem of Implementation 163
  • Notes 174
  • Part Four - Strategy: the Agenda for Reform *
  • 9 - What Remains to Be Done 177
  • Notes 193
  • Appendix A - Key Laws in Russian Judicial Reform (1991-1998) 199
  • Appendix B - Composite List of Recommendations 202
  • Appendix C - Survey of Judges: Selected Questions 206
  • Appendix D - List of Persons Consulted or Interviewed 211
  • Index 215
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