Courts and Judges
In the USSR a central shortcoming in the administration of justice was the absence of judicial independence. Courts in the Soviet Union were neither regarded nor treated as an institution separate from the political regime that they served. Accordingly, the Soviet state took few steps to buttress its constitutional proclamation of "the independence of judges." 1 Judges had no guarantees of professional security and private welfare, and the funding and servicing of the courts failed to shield judges from the outside world. In fact, in rendering decisions at trial, judges were exposed to, rather than insulated from, external pressures, some of them coming from political officials. To be sure, direct intervention in the resolution of cases was neither common nor officially condoned, but even this extreme violation of judicial independence was tolerated by the regime most of the time, as long as the interventions served the regime's purposes and were conducted discreetly.
The willingness of many judges to take occasional direction from politicians was based upon their dependence upon political bosses in their localities, dependence that was both personal and institutional in character. Judges themselves relied upon the goodwill of political bosses in their localities for tenure in office (both to gain renomination every five years and to avoid recall during the term) and for the provision of such important perks as apartments and vacations. To operate courts effectively the chief judges needed cooperation and supplementary funding from local leaders to get courthouses repaired and cars provided. 2