How does a jury trial work in Russia?
The jury first appeared in the Russian Empire in 1864. Since then, this format of justice has been periodically removed and reintroduced. In modern Russia, it was restored in 1993. True, he did not start working in the regions at the same time. Ivanovo, Moscow, Ryazan and Saratov regions became pioneers. The outsider is the Sverdlovsk region, where the jury trial arose only in 2003.
The defendant is the initiator of the case being considered by the jury. He can file a corresponding petition if he is accused under articles that involve severe punishment. This, for example, murder, kidnapping, banditry, mercenary and so on.
Who can be jurors
They can be citizens:
- over 25 years old;
- no outstanding or unexpunged conviction;
- not registered in a psycho-neurological or narcological dispensary in connection with treatment for alcoholism , drug addiction, substance abuse, chronic and protracted mental disorders.
Those who are accused or suspected of a crime, or do not speak the language in which the proceedings are conducted, or have mental or physical disabilities that may interfere, will not be allowed to consider specific cases.
How do they get on the jury
Every four years, local administrations draw up lists of candidates for jurors and a reserve list. People from these documents are already being summoned to court.
What do jurors do
A person from the list of jurors can be called to a court session once a year for 10 days. If the case lasts longer, the period will be extended until the end of its consideration. Moreover, these days often do not go in a row, the pauses between them can be significant.
When a jury trial is scheduled, people are chosen at random from a list of candidates. They shall be given a notice not later than seven days in advance indicating the date and time of arrival at the court.
But this does not guarantee participation in the meeting. The parties to the prosecution or defense may file a recusal. If the candidate was summoned to court, but was not selected to participate in a particular case, the person may be invited to another process in the same year. (You also have the right to recuse yourself, but more on that later.)
6-8 people (depending on the court) are allowed to sit as the main members of the jury and two as reserve members. The latter will come in handy if one of the main ones drops out.
The jurors will have to choose a chairman from their number by open voting . It is he who will submit questions and requests to the judge in writing, as well as announce the decision of the board.
The jury does not take an active part in the trial. They are allowed to listen, make notes, so that they can later be used in the deliberation room, inspect material evidence, clarify something through the chairman of the board. As a result, they must answer three main questions :
- Is it proven that the act took place?
- Is it proven that this act was committed by the defendant?
- Is the defendant guilty of this act?
But you can also ask about something else. In particular, if the defendant is found guilty, the jury will be asked if he deserves leniency .
The result of the work of the jury should be a verdict : accusatory or acquittal. The first is ruled if the majority of the jurors agreed with all three main points. The second – if at least four members of the board answered negatively to any of the questions.
The judge must agree with the acquittal. And the accused has the right to independently change.
What Not to Do to Juries
Jurors are prohibited from :
- leave the courtroom during the hearing of a criminal case;
- to speak about the criminal case before discussing issues when passing a verdict;
- discuss the criminal case with people who are not part of the court;
- seek additional information on a criminal case outside the court session;
- violate the secrecy of the vote and the jury, that is, to tell who expressed what position.
If a person breaks the rules, he can be expelled from the board and replaced by a substitute.
Can you skip work if you’re called on a jury?
If you become a jury member, you can not go to work these days, this is a good reason . You cannot be fired or transferred to another position. Of course, the authorities will not pay for the missed time. But they are entitled to compensation from the state – ½ the salary of a judge of this court in terms of days, but not less than your average salary. At the same time, it is important to understand that the salary of a judge, unlike his salary, is not very large. Even the chairman of the Constitutional Court, taking into account indexation, is a little more than 36.5 thousand rubles. This is approximately 1,787 rubles per day. The salaries of other judges are less. They will also pay for travel and travel expenses.
How to refuse to be a juror
Being on a jury is a civic duty . But if you think that you are not very indebted, you can avoid this fate.
There is an option to apply to the administration to be excluded from the list of candidates for the jury if you :
- you cannot perform these duties for health reasons (prepare medical certificates as proof);
- over 65 years old;
- hold public or elected office in local government;
- are in military service;
- left the FSB, foreign intelligence agencies or state security less than five years ago;
- judge, lawyer, notary , investigator, FSSP employee, private detective now or ceased to be less than five years ago;
- an employee of the internal affairs bodies, the Federal Penitentiary Service, customs in a special rank or left such a position less than five years ago;
If summoned to appear in court as a jury, those who :
- over 60 years old;
- has a child under three years old (works only for women );
- cannot become a member of the college due to religious beliefs;
- cannot leave work, as this will cause significant harm to public or state interests;
- has other valid reasons.
What reasons will be considered as such cannot be predicted in advance, since there is no list of them in the laws. Usually these are some insurmountable circumstances like an illness.
Another option is to simply ignore the notification. There is no responsibility for this. But if you come, become a member of the board and then do not appear at the court session without a good reason, you will be fined 2.5 thousand rubles .
Is it worth being on a jury
There are very few acquittals in Russia. For example, in 2020, the courts made such a decision in less than 0.2% of cases . This is explained by the high-quality work of the investigation: allegedly, only cases where the suspect is guilty reach the hearings. However, there may be other reasons. One of them is that if charges are dropped from a person, he should be compensated. The jury, in turn, delivered 27% of acquittals in 2020.
This is not a panacea. Not infrequently, acquittals are overturned by higher courts and sent for review, without any assessors. And the person is blamed. But a jury trial gives you a chance anyway. So you can participate in it in the name of at least some kind of justice, if you still believe in it a little.
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