Starting to prepare a report on judicial online openness, we seek for studying both offer of and demand to judicial information. To obtain relevant sociological information, we applied to the Levada Center that has already provided first results.
Online publication of judicial acts (decisions, definitions, etc.) is now actively discussed by online community and sometimes becomes subject for judicial proceedings.
We should remind that while arbitration courts publish their decisions online without any erasures, general jurisdiction courts erase some data from their acts before online publication, According to the Federal Law #262-FZ On Providing Access to Information on the Activities of Courts in the Russian Federation (Article 3, Paragraph 15), acts of general jurisdiction courts published at their official websites should not contain any personal data except surnames and initials of case parties and court officials participating in the hearings.
In practice, courts often erase any names from judicial acts published online. Sometimes, names of legal persons and similar data (not personal in any way) are also erased. Unfortunately, court can also not publish any acts.
There is a number of various proposals how to control publication of judicial acts both from within and from outside the judicial community. In our turn, we wished to study the public demand to online publication of judicial acts.
We thank the Levada Center for having performed an omnibus survey over 1601 respondents in 130 towns and cities of 45 regions (with maximal bias of 3.4%).
The respondents were asked:
What opinion on online publication of judicial acts disclosed within open court hearings you would agree with?
One answer was to be selected from the following list:
1. The judicial acts should be published at courts’ official websites without any erasures
2. The judicial acts should be published at courts’ official websites with erased personal data of victims and witnesses but not those of accused persons, plaintiffs, defendants, third parties, and legal attorneys)
3. The judicial acts should be published at courts’ official websites without any personal data
4. The judicial acts should not be published at courts’ official websites at all
5. Cannot say
The position fixed by the Law #262-FZ is most close to Option 2.
The answers are distributed as follows:
1 – 13.3%
2 – 21.8%
3 – 24%
4 – 16%
5 – 24.9%
Most of the FIF staff, including Ivan Pavlov, FIF Board Chair, would choose Option 1. “I have not imagined that there would be so many people sharing this opinion”, Pavlov says. “I believe that 13.3% is rather a great share. Together with our allies choosing Option 2, there will be about a third. And together also with those who have not decided (and chose Option 5), we will amount almost to two thirds. To achieve this level in practice, we should try to arise interest of those who “cannot say” today, and to persuade them to take our side”.
“But up to now, those who believe that judicial acts should be published online without any erasures appear to be in the minority,” Pavlov continues. “This figure, 13.3%, is an implicit indicator of efficiency for our work and that of our colleagues seeking for governmental, including judicial, informational openness. It can serve as a baseline for further studies… For instance, one could notice that responding women have been more conservative than men”.
Detailed results tables provided by the Levada Center are available at the Russian page (as attachments).
We express more thanks to the Levada Center, and to Ms Natalia Zorkaya and Mr Alexey Grazhdankin in person.