Most studies in the USA show that judges grant severe penalties in trials especially in jury trails comparing the plea. In Russia, court statistics shows the similar trend has been performed as by regional courts since 2014 just in the context of the decline in both the jurisdiction of jury trials and the number of jury cases. However, since mid-2018, jury trials have expanded their jurisdiction on the district courts, causing large logistical and time costs. Jury in Russia grant the acquittals hundred times more frequently than professional judges alone and that stimulates defendants to jury trials. Simultaneously, the court statistics shows that district courts perform the jury penalty despite the jury leniency. Expert interviews with judges held in 2019-2021 discover that this sentencing policy has two main motives: first, to compensate with more severe punishment for the resources, time and risks that the defendant caused to judiciary and prosecution by his/her motion for a jury trial, and the second — use the policy of sentencing as a factor deterring other defendants from choosing a jury trial.
The research paper in Russia is published here
We present a policy memo “Same Point of Law”: Citations of [Precedent] Cases in Commercial Courts". We examined 6.9 million texts of rulings of state commercial (“arbitrazh”) courts to identify references to judicial law-making: legal positions set forth by courts in similar cases. Some findings from this study:
The article ‘Is There a “Compensation Culture” in Contemporary Russia? The Role of Liability Insurance, Non-Pecuniary Damages, and Legal Profession in Personal Injury Litigation’ by Timur Bocharov has been published in the journal Oñati Socio-Legal Series. The article explores current trends in personal injury litigation in Russia compared with the common law countries (the UK and US). The specificity of the Russian situation is explained by the influence of the Soviet culture of tort law. The most visible areas of the Soviet impact addressed in the article are liability insurance, non-pecuniary damages, and the legal profession.The research is based on the analysis of judicial decisions on personal injury cases, court statistics, and expert interviews with personal injury lawyers.
Ekaterina Khodzhaeva has prepared an overview of the official statistics on jury trials held in regional and district courts. The main trends in 2018-2020 are:
- jurors acquit almost one third of defendants in district courts;
- but regional courts reverse three among five acquttals granted by juries.
More details are publlished here in Russian.
Center for Strategic Research has published its report "Proposals for Improving the Judicial System" co-authored by Vadim Volkov, Kirill Titaev, Aryna Dzmitryieva, and Timur Bocharov. The report provides a diagnostic assessment of the work of the Russian judicial system based on a series of empirical studies. These studies have revealed a number of issues that need to be addressed. The report suggests such policy measures as improving the quality of personnel; removing organizational restrictions and giving judges greater independence and the judicial system greater autonomy; and reducing the workload and simplifying the judicial process.
Specialized schools of judges are becoming increasingly popular through Europe. The report preparred by Timur Bocharov, Aryna Dzmitryieva and Dmitriy Skugarevskiy provides a comparative overview of three judicial schools in France, Portugal and Poland.
The training model of these schools involves preparing candidates who already have a basic legal education for judicial positions. The training is therefore based not on the acquisition of new knowledge of the law, but on the acquisition of the practical skills, ethics and specific thinking necessary in the judicial work. The experience of other countries in organizing national schools of judges seems particularly relevant and useful in the Russian context, where the low quality of judges and the lack of independence of judges remain important - if not decisive - problems of the judicial system. Full text (in Russian).
The IRL published a report by Aryna Dzmitryieva and Denis Saveliev "The Sources of Judiciary in Russia and the Role of Court Apparatus". The paper analyzes the professional and social structure of judicial personnel and identifies the main mechanisms of appointment to judicial positions. Analysis of the opinions of qualification boards of judges and other data sources shows that in recent years the number of applicants for judicial posts has been decreasing, as well as their diversity. The paper shows that the function of decision-making on the selection of judicial personnel has actually shifted to the level of court chairpersons, and the CCs only occasionally show autonomy. The ideal judicial candidate is not an independent and authoritative expert in the relevant field of law, but an executive and hard-working member of the court apparatus. Full text (in Russian)
Laws journal published an article by Aryna Dzmitryieva, which examines the process of selecting cases at the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation and the role of the Secretariat in the selection process. Every year the Court receives more than fifteen thousand appeals, but only a few dozen cases are decided. The article describes the process of processing cases at different stages - from the moment an appeal is received by the Secretariat to the moment the decision on the case is pronounced. Full text.
The book ‘A Sociology of Justice in Russia’ edited by Marina Kurkchiyan and Agnieszka Kubal has been published in Cambridge University Press.
The book includes the chapter ‘When Business Goes to Court: Arbitrazh Courts’ in Russia’ prepared by Timur Bocharov and Kirill Titaev. This chapter explores how the relatively unique and autonomous structure of Russian commercial courts – known as Arbitrazh courts – operates. It takes a close look at the types of dispute decided on by Arbitrazh courts, how they process their caseload and the experiences of the different users of this institution of justice in Russia.
The group of IRL researchers has published the analytical report ‘Acquittal and Rehabilitation in the Republic of Kazakhstan’. This report has been prepared as a part of the joint European Union and Council of Europe programme ‘Support to the Kazakh Authorities in Improving the Quality and Efficiency of the Kazakh Justice System’. The report explores the functioning of the criminal justice system in Kazakhstan and discusses the role of the acquittal and rehabilitation in its improvement. The full text in Russian is available on our website.