Courts on the Web in Russia

Courts on the Web in Russia

Alexei Trochev
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-947-2.ch132
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When the Internet reached Russia in the mid-1990s, Russian judicial chiefs actively embraced the idea of having a solid presence of national judiciary on the Web. To judges, having court Web sites would improve public awareness about Russian courts and relieve overloaded court clerks from answering mundane questions about the location of courthouses, hours of work, schedule of hearings, court forms, and so on. However, the chronic underfinancing of Russian courts in the 1990s and the decentralized nature of the Russian judiciary made the creation and the maintenance of the lower courts’ Web sites much more sporadic. Improving public awareness about Russian courts is a priority for Russian judges, who increasingly issue impartial decisions yet at the same time face growing public skepticism about judicial performance (Solomon, 2003, 2004; Trochev, 2006). As the growing number of studies of the information and communication technologies (ICT) in courthouses around the world show, computerized courts can both speed up the administration of justice and strengthen public trust in the judicial system (Bueno, Ribeiro, & Hoeschl, 2003; Dalal, 2005; Fabri & Contini, 2001; Fabri & Langbroek, 2000; Fabri, Jean, Langbroek, & Pauliat, 2005; Langbroek & Fabri, 2004; Oskamp, Lodder, & Apistola, 2004; Valentini, 2003; Malik, 2002). Indeed, as the recent research demonstrates, those who know something about the courts: either about court procedures or about court-ordered public policies, tend to trust the judiciary and to comply with court decisions (Baird, 2001; Gibson, Caldeira., & Baird, 1998; Kritzer & Voelker, 1998; Tyler & Mitchell, 1994; Tyler, Boeckmann, Smith, & Huo, 1997). This article focuses on the Web sites of Russian courts as the virtual gateways in the world of judicial administration (Trochev, 2002) and discusses challenges of adapting Russian court Web sites to the needs of various users of judicial system: judges themselves, law-enforcement agencies, actual litigants, general public and scholars (Toharia, 2003).

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