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