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NCJ Number: 94328 Find in a Library
Title: Ongoing Soviet Debate About the Presumptions of Innocence
Journal: Criminal Justice Ethics  Volume:3  Issue:1  Dated:(Winter/Spring 1984)  Pages:69-75
Author(s): G P Fletcher
Date Published: 1984
Page Count: 7
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The author argues that the active debate in the Soviet Union over the presumption of innocence and its procedural significance reflects an important institutional struggle between the procuracy and the courts.
Abstract: Those favoring a stronger judiciary also favor the presumption of innocence, preferring to think of the trial as a unique phase in the criminal process. Opponents of a strong judiciary disfavor the presumption and view trial as one stage in a process of collective fact finding. Prior to 1977, the debate was limited to formal doctrinal moves about the legal nature of presumption. With the enactment of the new constitution in 1977, advocates of presumption of innocence found powerful new support for their position, since two provisions in the constitution support the presumption's theoretical purpose of counteracting the influence of the procuracy at trial. A 1978 decree of the USSR Supreme Court held that the procuracy had no claim to superior influence in a trial and expressly recognized the presumption of innocence as a constitutional principle. A 1978 article by I.L. Petrukhin was a sophisticated effort to ground the presumption and criticized existing statutory regulation of pretrial diversion. Petrukhin contended that diverting cases to comrades' courts or juvenile courts represented an implicit finding of guilt and therefore violated the constitution and the presumption of innocence. This critique prompted a reply from M. Strogovich in February 1983 which maintained that the presumption of innocence constitutes a principle of Soviet constitutional law. He insisted that pretrial diversion did not represent an official finding of guilt, but was based on cooperation with the suspect and thus did not violate the presumption principle. In the diversion context, Strogovich dissented from his colleague Petrukhin's case for an expanded judicial role. The paper contains 44 footnotes.
Index Term(s): Presumption of innocence; Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)
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