Regional judges were informed of successes and warned of problems

Regional judges were informed of successes and warned of problems


At the Moscow President Hotel on Tuesday they talked about the humanization of criminal justice, the digitalization of courts and the right of judges to make mistakes. The chairmen of the regional councils of judges gathered for a seminar-meeting, which traditionally takes place every six months, to summarize the work done and outline the immediate prospects. The main event expected by the entire judicial system is the appointment of a new chairman of the Supreme Court (SC), which could take place before the end of April.

At the beginning of the event, its participants observed a minute of silence in memory of the recently deceased permanent chairman of the Supreme Council Vyacheslav Lebedev. And on the sidelines they said that perhaps as early as April 17, the Federation Council would consider the president’s proposal to appoint Irina Podnosova as head of the board for economic disputes to this post. The day before, she received a recommendation from the Higher Qualification Board, and a meeting of the Presidential Commission for preliminary consideration of issues of appointment of judges was scheduled for April 4.

However, so far the successes in the humanization of justice have been reported by… O. Chairman of the Supreme Council Petr Serkov. Work in this direction does not stop, he said: in 2023, the courts stopped criminal prosecution against 19% of the accused, and the number of convicted people decreased by 25,700 people, or 4%. The number of petitions for detention granted by the courts decreased by 6% and for extension of detention by 11%. But the number of people to whom courts imposed a sentence of forced labor as an alternative to imprisonment increased fivefold—from 3,600 in 2022 to 17,300 in 2023. In general, Russian courts last year considered 2 million cases (or 10%) less than the year before. However, the reduction occurred primarily due to administrative cases and cases of administrative offenses, Mr. Serkov noted.

Chairman of the Council of Judges Viktor Momotov believes that one should not expect any change of course in connection with the upcoming appointment of the head of the Supreme Court. The judicial system is conservative in the good sense of the word, he explained to Kommersant, the main directions of its development were approved at the 20th Congress of Judges, and what the Supreme Court is doing is the implementation of what has already been planned. “We go about our business like medieval knights: do what you have to do, and then come what may,” summed up Mr. Momotov. In particular, according to him, the Council of Judges has completed work on a bill on standards of workload for judges, which is important for the entire judicial system: if it is supported, the Judicial Department under the Supreme Court will have the opportunity to independently redistribute the staff of judges between regions, and it will also be possible to raise the issue of its increase.

The Council of Judges also intends to improve the mechanism for bringing judges to disciplinary liability: they are busy preparing a bill that will make it possible to draw a clearer line between a miscarriage of justice and a disciplinary offense. A judge must be held responsible for an offense, but he must have the right to make a mistake, explained Viktor Momotov: for example, in a situation where there is no established judicial practice, and the judge has a firm conviction that he is doing the right thing and is guided by the law.

At the same time, judges were warned about the need to be careful when investing money in investment funds: they are not limited in the acquisition of foreign securities, and the owners of shares in such funds become owners of property acquired under the right of common shared ownership and thereby violate the ban on the acquisition of foreign financial assets. Judges must be aware of all possible risks and take measures to study the sources of formation of the fund’s property, Mr. Momotov insisted.

Meanwhile, according to the Chairman of the High Qualification Board of Judges Nikolai Timoshin, judges are being punished more often for violations in their work. In 2023, 249 judges were disciplined (with 22 of them losing their powers early) – this is 20% more than in 2022, when 208 people were punished.

Finally, digital technologies remain one of the most important areas in the development of justice. By the end of the year, Viktor Momotov promised, the “Online Justice” super service should be launched, which will ensure remote filing of lawsuits and remote participation in the trial (services integrated with government services are currently being tested in several dozen regions). The transition to “electronic courts” will be fully implemented by 2030, hopes the Chairman of the Council of Judges. This will require automation of court records, changes in procedural legislation and the introduction of electronic document management.

Anastasia Kornya


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