Courts and Transition in Russia: The Challenge of Judicial Reform

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

5
Staffing the Courts:
Recruitment and Training

The quality of justice, as well as its public reputation, depends on the character of the judges who administer it. This is especially so in countries (like Russia) where the contact between courts and the population, in both criminal and civil trials, is not mediated to any great extent by lawyers. In Russia, judges are often the first and sometimes only point of contact between individuals and the machinery of justice. "Cadres," one might say, therefore determine much if not most of the meaning of justice. Unfortunately for Russia, however, cadres are the Achilles heel of the judicial system. Especially in the post-Soviet period, Russia has had difficulty staffing its courts with a large and reliable corps of highlyqualified jurists.

The Russian Federation has approximately 15,000 posts for judges, most of whose occupants pursue careers in the judiciary. There are, however, some 1,500 vacant judicial posts; that is, one-tenth of the "personnel units" allotted the judiciary remain unfilled (Tables 5.1-5.31). One reason is that since 1992 candidates for judgeships must have five years of prior legal experience, and it may be difficult for chairmen of courts to find persons with this credential 2 Further, some cynics claim that the vacancies result from a purported "self-interest" of the judiciary in not filling the posts; with vacancies, it has been suggested, the wage bill apportioned by the Ministry of Justice can be divided up among the corps more favorably for stalwart judges. 3 But neither of these factors represents the underlying cause of the vacancies, for understaffing in 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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