Politicized Justice in Emerging Democracies: A Study of Courts in Russia and Ukraine

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Cambridge University Press, Jan 31, 2012 - Law - 197 pages
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Why are independent courts rarely found in emerging democracies? This book moves beyond familiar obstacles, such as an inhospitable legal legacy and formal institutions that expose judges to political pressure. It proposes a strategic pressure theory, which claims that in emerging democracies, political competition eggs on rather than restrains power-hungry politicians. Incumbents who are losing their grip on power try to use the courts to hang on, which leads to the politicization of justice. The analysis uses four original datasets, containing 1,000 decisions by Russian and Ukrainian lower courts from 1998 to 2004 in two politically salient types of cases - electoral registration disputes and defamation lawsuits against media outlets - as well as data from interviews with judges, lawyers, litigants, and judicial administrators. The main finding is that justice is politicized in both countries, but in the more competitive regime (Ukraine) incumbents leaned more forcefully on the courts and obtained more favorable rulings.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
1 What Is Judicial Independence?
14
2 Judges and Politicians
26
3 What Can a Focused Comparison of Russia and Ukraine Tell Us about the Origins of Independent Courts?
44
4 The Role of Ukrainian and Russian Courts in the Provision of Free and Fair Elections
68
5 The Role of Ukrainian and Russian Courts in the Provision of Press Freedom
102
6 Politicians Capacity to Pressure the Courts
128
7 Politicians Willingness to Pressure the Courts 19982004 and Beyond
148
Conclusion Politicized Justice in Russia Ukraine and Beyond
168
Bibliography
175
Index
193
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About the author (2012)

Maria Popova is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at McGill University. She is the winner of the 2007 Edward S. Corwin Award from the American Political Science Association for best dissertation in the field of public law and the 2006 Sumner Dissertation Prize in the Department of Government at Harvard University. Her writings have been published in Comparative Political Studies, Demokratizatsiya, Europe-Asia Studies, the Journal of East European Law and Konstitutsionnoe Pravo: Vostochnoevropeiskoe Obozrenie.

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