Analysis: Russia ‘Pussy Riot’ Case Spotlights Dire Jury Need

http://www.google.com/#sclient=psy-ab&hl=en&site=&source=hp&q=jury+trial+in+russia&oq=jury+trial+in+russia&gs_l=hp.3..0i30.1384.8485.1.8998.22.14.1.7.7.1.366.3926.2-10j4.14.0.les%3B..0.0…1c.TSlcpM8ZxGk&psj=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&fp=57ba58ff6ad5cd9f&biw=1600&bih=675

and http://www.prison.org/english/rpsjur.htm and http://www.bu.edu/phpbin/news-cms/news/?dept=732&id=55374 and http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/16/world/europe/16jury.html?pagewanted=all  and no jury for ‘Pussy Riot’ trial http://articles.boston.com/2012-08-11/opinion/33137058_1_anti-putin-church-and-state-maria-alekhina

The current Russian jury model is a peculiar hybrid of pre-revolutionary Russian, Soviet, and Western criminal procedures. Its distinctive elements are: the lack of jurisdiction over crimes against the state; the absence of the unanimity requirement; a three-hour maximum deliberation period; the option to remand a case back to the prosecution for additional investigation; and the Supreme Court’s right to overturn a verdict (Russian criminal law does not prohibit double jeopardy). Juries have no jurisdiction over civil cases or minor crimes. (2) The jury caseload primarily consists of aggravated murder, racketeering, aggravated (or first degree) bribery, and crimes against justice (such as perjury or obstructing a police officer). (3)

Russian juries try approximately 0.05% of all criminal cases and have a 20% acquittal rate, which is approximately twenty times higher than that of traditional courts. (4) Despite the miniscule share of criminal cases that they have tried, juries have gained some notoriety after several widely publicized acquittals. Juries have been criticized as unprofessional and susceptible to emotional and financial pressure by all parties in the criminal process. In one case, two affluent Russian businessmen, Igor Poddubny and Yevgeny Babkov, were charged with possessing $2 million worth of contraband cigarettes, fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy. The first jury was dismissed after the prosecution unsuccessfully attempted to pressure the jurors to reconsider their forthcoming “not guilty” verdict. Members of the second jury, after rendering a “not guilty” verdict, went to a restaurant to celebrate the verdict with one of the defendants, his lawyer, and some members of the first jury. The Supreme Court overturned the verdict, but the third jury issued an acquittal as well, setting the men free after five years of pretrial incarceration. (5)

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There Is No Justice’

Ms. Vasilyeva, a retired telephone operator, professes herself entirely uninterested in politics — she rarely reads a newspaper, she said proudly. But as the jury’s designated mother hen, she was angry enough to speak publicly about the dismissal, about how unprotected jurors are from outside influence, how hard they worked to reach a verdict, how frustrating it was not to deliver it.

“Where money and politics are mixed up,” she said, “there is no justice.”

Mr. Nagle was similarly outspoken. He complained that “in old age, I have become disappointed in the justice system,” and told a television news crew about being approached by law enforcement and asked to drop out.

The experience left such a sour taste in his mouth, he said, that he tries not to dwell on it.

“The law doesn’t work. People in power can do whatever they want with the law,” he said. “It is always unpleasant when some of your illusions are destroyed.”

The only answer he has gotten is an indirect one.

A few days after Mr. Nagle described his complaints on the air, Pervy Kanal, the state-controlled television station, aired a segment devoted to the crimes of Mr. Izmestiev, concluding that “it is impossible to extract details from this porridge of politics, oil and blood, but it’s clear it has been brewed by one thing: big money.”

The camera cut to the host of the show, Aleksei V. Pimanov, a powerful television executive who has recently been nominated by the governing party, United Russia, to become a senator. Mr. Pimanov delivered a barbed message to the jurors who had spoken out, implying that they had been bribed by the defense.

“We would not have made this program while the case was going on if it had not been for the very strange behavior of these former jurors,” said Mr. Pimanov. “Something tells me that their statements — made in violation of all rules and laws — were made for a good reason. What that reason was, you can guess for yourselves.”

Since then, the jurors have kept quiet.

As for the case against Mr. Izmestiev, it will most likely end with a verdict in a matter of weeks.

This time the state is taking no chances. A spokesman for Russia’s general prosecutor, Yury Y. Chaika, would not respond to an inquiry from The Times on the matter, saying the case is still pending. But at a ceremony honoring investigators this fall, Mr. Chaika singled out the Izmestiev prosecution as a singular success.

He has every reason to be confident.

This spring, while the jurors were playing cards in the jury room, Russia’s Constitutional Court ruled that terrorism cases were too important to be trusted to ordinary citizens — they are, the court reasoned, too vulnerable to intimidation.

So this time, the verdict will be decided by a panel of three judges.

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ISCIP – Jury trials in modern Russia

 
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Jan 28, 2010 – Jury trials in modern Russia. On January 1, 2010, jury trials were introduced in Chechnya, the only federal Russian region that did not have this

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4 comments

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