Legal mobilization in Russia: how organizations of lawyers can support social changes

Abstract

To illustrate the role of organizations of lawyers in social changes we analyze the process of transforming legal and socio-political institutions in Russia over the past 30 years. We combine the theory of legal mobilization with the concept of violence and social orders proposed by North, Wallis and Weingast to describe the general logic of this process. Russian case shows that exogenous shocks stimulate collective action of criminal defence lawyers which, in turn, compel the government to respond. The state can promote the passivity of the legal community and stop legal mobilization by providing certain preferences for the profession. Even though in the 2000s, Russia took the path of destroying legal institutions, legal profession in certain circumstances could again act as an agent of social change. We conclude that the efficiency of collective action depends on the institutional capacity of legal association and on the position of the professional elite standing at its head.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Advocate (“advokat”) is a formal status that allows Russian lawyers to work on criminal cases; in European countries, they typically called criminal defense lawyers. There is no distinction between barristers and solicitors in Russia, but there is a clear difference between advocates and private lawyers (“chastnopraktikuyushchie yuristy”) - attorneys who did not pass the bar exam and are not allowed to work on criminal cases.

  2. 2.

    Obviously, the point at issue in this case is organisational and administrative influence by the elite rather than professional authority. Nevertheless, professional authority today generally coincides with the position of advocates in professional organisations.

  3. 3.

    http://www.vedomosti.ru/politics/articles/2016/05/11/640574-vmesto-otvetov-zaprosi-advokati-poluchat-eticheskuyu-vertikal

  4. 4.

    Russian Federation Government Resolution of 4 July 2003 No. 400 “On the Amount of Compensation of an Advocate Participating in Criminal Proceedings as Defense Council on Assignment of Bodies of Inquiry, Preliminary Investigation or the Court.”

  5. 5.

    January 23, 2007, (No. 1-P) Ruling of the Russian Federation Constitutional Court on the case on the constitutionality of the provisions of paragraph 1 of Article 779 and paragraph 1 of Article 781 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation in connection with the complaints of the limited liability company “Agency of Corporate Security” and the citizen V.V. Makeyev.

  6. 6.

    Unless we consider the refusal of self-administration bodies of the Moscow Bar Association to disbar the advocates representing defendants in that case as taking a position.

  7. 7.

    Order of the Russian Federation Ministry of Justice and the Russian Federation Ministry of Finance of 15 October 2007 No. 199/87n for the City of Moscow “On Approval of the Order of Calculation of the Amount of Compensation of an Advocate Participating in Criminal Proceedings as Defense Council on Assignment of Bodies of Inquiry, Preliminary Investigation or the Court, Depending on the Complexity of the Criminal Case.”

  8. 8.

    For more details, see Three-Day All-Russian Strike of Advocates Scheduled for the End of April. 11 April 2012. Pravo.ru. 26 March 2012. [http://pravo.ru/story/view/70969/]

  9. 9.

    FCA compares the wages of advocates, judges and investigators of the Russian Investigative Committee, but requests a stop to protesting. Pravo.ru. 26 March 2012. [http://pravo.ru/news/view/70306]

  10. 10.

    The RF FPL Council Appeals to RF Government. 08.04.2016. Official website of the Russian Federal Chamber of Lawyers [http://www.fparf.ru/news/all_news/news/20787/].

  11. 11.

    Official website of RFCL. The payment for work on appointment of the court increased. [https://fparf.ru/news/all_news/news/55577/]

  12. 12.

    For more details, see Grivtsov А. Defending Dvoryak. Novaya Advokatskaya Gazeta. 7/2015 (192).

  13. 13.

    Advocate’s Independence Guarantees. Federal Chamber of Lawyers. 06.04.2016. [http://fparf.ru/news/all_news/news/20511]

  14. 14.

    Case №44у-46/2016. Decision of Court of Cassation of Abakan. 23 June 2016.

  15. 15.

    Suspect in Murder of Commander of Nizhny Novgorod SORB Released. RBC. 06.08.2011. [http://www.rbc.ru/society/06/08/2011/609184.shtml]

  16. 16.

    Appeal decision № 22–2931 of Rostov Regional Court. 1 June 2011.

  17. 17.

    Gorbunova E. “Saving Face” and the Advocate’s Duty. Novaya Advokatskaya Gazeta. No. 21, November 2014 (182).

  18. 18.

    Goryaev O. Victim in the “Rostov Amazons” Case Left without Defense. The Court Suspends the Advocate of the Mother of the Murdered SOBR Officer. // Kommersant, No. 10, 25.01.2016, p. 5. [http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/2900300]

  19. 19.

    Udalov L. Enemy of the State: Mother of Seven Svetlana Davydova Confesses to “High Treason” // Moskovsky Komsomolets. 31.01.2015 [http://www.mk.ru/social/2015/01/31/mat-semerykh-detey-obvinyaemaya-v-gosizmene-dala-priznatelnye-pokazaniya.html]

  20. 20.

    Case 221–601, the decision of Lefortovo Court. 22 January 2015.

  21. 21.

    Decision of the Moscow state court. [see http://www.mos-gorsud.ru/news/?id=810]. 16 February 2015.

  22. 22.

    Advocate of Davydova, Accused of High Treason, Debarred. 15 April. INTERFAX.RU, 15 April 2015. [http://www.interfax.ru/russia/436498]

  23. 23.

    The shooting at the Moscow supermarket was the act of the chief of the Tsaritsino district police department [http://lenta.ru/news/2009/04/27/chief/]

  24. 24.

    Interior Ministry: “Police hunters” have been on the loose since February. 11.06.2010. [http://top.rbc.ru/incidents/11/06/2010/419778.shtml]

  25. 25.

    Policemen from the “Dalny” district police department sentenced in camera to 67 years in prison for torture of citizens [http://pravo.ru/news/view/106173/]. 16 June 2014.

  26. 26.

    Krokhmalyuk A. (2012) On the Future of the Bar — with Optimism // Novaya Advokatskaya Gazeta, No. 10 (123), May 2012. - http://www.advgazeta.ru/rubrics/5/855

  27. 27.

    RF Government Instruction of 04.04.2013 No. 517-r.

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Acknowledgements

The study has been funded within the framework of the Basic Research Program at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) and by the Russian Academic Excellence Project ‘5-100’. We express special gratitude to Daniil Sitkevich for assistance in the selection of cases for this article. The authors are grateful for the useful comments made by Alexander Khvoshchinsky, Ekaterina Khodzhaeva, Igor Redkin, Alexander Krokhmalyuk, and participants in the XVII April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development (April, 2016) and Mercadus Conference “The Life & Legacy of Douglass North: Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of North’s Nobel Prize in Economics” (March, 2018).

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Kazun, A., Yakovlev, A. Legal mobilization in Russia: how organizations of lawyers can support social changes. Crime Law Soc Change 72, 303–325 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10611-019-09813-0

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