Paneyakh 2016. The Practical Logic of Judicial Decision Making: Discretion Under Pressure and Compromises at the Expense of the Defendant. Russian Politics and Law, vol. 54, nos. 2–3, 2016, pp. 138–163
Russian judges operate under high pressure resulting from structural limitations imposed by internal bureaucracy of the judicial system,combined with institutionalized interdependence with procuracy and lawenforcementagencies,wheretheformerhaveupperhandoverthe judiciary. In the absence of transparency and mechanisms for public or professional accountability, judges engage into opportunisticbehavior seeking satisfactory performance indicators, avoidingconﬂicts with law enforcement bodies, and economizing their owneffort and time. This results in an accusatorial bias in Russian courts:they acquit not more than 1 out of 500 defendants. Within thesestructural limitations, though, the judges look for the opportunities toexercisesomedegreeofjudicialdiscretiontoavoidunnecessaryharmto the defendants who might be prosecuted unfairly, or investigated negligently. Where possible, they use termination of the cases ongrounds of active repentance or reconciliation with the victim, and suspended sentences (probation) as substitutes for acquittals.
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