Sept. 10: Lecture by Alexei Trochev, "How Judges Arrest & Acquit"

"How Judges Arrest and Acquit: Soviet Legacies in Post-Communist Criminal Justice" by Alexei Trochev, Institute for Legal Studies/Global Legal Studies Center visiting scholar. Noon-1:15 p.m., Lubar Commons. Sponsored by GLS, ILS and UW-Madison's Center for Russia, East Europe and Central Asia.

Abstract: If someone fell asleep in the late 1980s in a courtroom in Warsaw, Moscow or Tashkent, and suddenly awoke in 2010, she or he would notice many differences. Yet, judges consistently show the Soviet-era "accusatory bias" and side with the state prosecutors in both pre-trial and trial stages of criminal proceedings. Despite highly varied political systems, serious expansion of judicial discretion, a more vibrant bar, and the introduction of adversarial court proceedings, post-communist judges continue to strengthen two late socialist legacies of criminal justice systems: near universal approval of detention of the accused, and avoidance of acquittals. Post-communist judges from Warsaw to Astana have the newly acquired exclusive power to detain the accused, yet they consistently approve nine out of 10 detention requests and nearly all (96 percent) requests for extension of detention proposed by state prosecutors. They acquit defendants in criminal trials extremely rarely (with no higher than 3 percent rates of acquittal), much like socialist-era judges did in the 1980s when they acquitted less than 2 percent of the defendants. In other words, if the socialist-era judicial chiefs were to wake up in 2010, they would award post-communist judges with bonuses and holiday trips for an excellent performance on the basis of these two indicators. The reason for this attractiveness of detentions and avoidance of acquittals lies in the mutually reinforcing relationships between Soviet legacies and post-communist pro-accusation incentives facing law-enforcement officials and judges.

Submitted by Law School News on September 4, 2013

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