Prime Minister and presidential candidate Vladimir Putin in his election platform proposed streaming court hearings over the Internet and publishing their transcripts. He also pointed out the need to develop a single and accessible precedent base of judicial decisions for the trial court system. Similar base is used by the commercial courts.
"We should consider streaming court hearings over the Internet and publishing transcripts. We would thus be able to see how the courts operate and what decisions they pass in comparable cases, where decisions are clear and transparent and where they are not," Putin said.
Internet streaming would curb the number of judicial errors and would increase the number of acquittals, according to attorneys surveyed by the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI/rapsinews.com).
The public might get involved
Attorney Sergei Brovchenko believes that Putin’s proposals would be good for the Russian judicial system, considering the foreign experience in this area. "Ukraine is adopting this practice – you can easily find information about court hearings on the Internet. They still have a long way to go, but they are working at the issue," Brovchenko said.
Attorney Aleksei Melnikov also welcomes the initiative. "We have virtually no access to precedents held within the trial court system now as opposed to the commercial courts where it has become standard practice to monitor the proceedings," Melnikov said.
He also noted that the public would be able to keep an eye on court activity and would be able to appeal to the Supreme Court if necessary.
No corruption or absurdities
Attorney Oksana Mikhalkina believes that Internet streaming would be a real breakthrough for the judicial system. This would be a good approach in the fight against corruption.
She said attorneys are the last to find out what the secretary actually put into the transcript, and this would make judges more disciplined since the audio records of hearings would be kept with the other court records.
She also said European courts keep video records of hearings, which are attached to the case along with audio records.
Sergei Polyakov said that streaming hearings over the Internet should only be done with the consent of the parties in the case; otherwise their civil rights could be violated.
He also believes that audio records should be attached to the case along with court transcripts.
Attorney Alexander Arutyunov, in turn, expressed doubts about Internet streaming and audio records. However, he favored the idea of publishing transcripts of hearings.
«A transcript is important for me as a lawyer. Court records are poorly maintained and judges often dismiss the complaints based on them. An audio record is also of little help," Arutyunov said. However, a verbatim transcript would be a real breakthrough and could significantly affect a trial.
Diana Gutsul, RAPSI