51 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2009 Last revised: 30 May 2010
Date Written: December 25, 2009
A dysfunctional judicial system in which bribes are welcome, rather than banned or frowned upon, is difficult to imagine, particularly in light of the prohibitions placed on such conduct in the United States. And yet just such a system is currently in place in Ukraine.
One of the factors likely contributing to the corrupt nature of Ukraine’s judiciary is the lack of a jury trial system; Ukraine has never had a single criminal or civil jury trial despite the fact that the right to a jury trial, at least in criminal cases, is guaranteed by its Constitution. This Article argues that Ukraine can and should make room for juries in its judicial system and provides a framework for both criminal and civil jury trial implementation. Although the use of juries will not remedy all the problems plaguing Ukraine, it can bring this country closer to achieving a truly democratic form of government. Additionally, other former Soviet Republics, especially those that closely resemble Ukraine in terms of their economic, political, and cultural characteristics, could learn and benefit from Ukraine’s example in this respect.
The implementation of jury trials in Ukraine is particularly important because this country, “once considered a worldwide symbol of an emerging, free-market democracy that had cast off authoritarianism, is teetering. And its predicament poses a real threat for other European economies and former Soviet republics.” Ukraine - widely considered “a linchpin for stability in Europe” - has a population of “46 million people and a highly strategic location a collapse in Ukraine could wreck what little investor confidence is left in Eastern Europe, whose formerly robust economies are being badly strained.” Further, governmental problems in Ukraine could “cause neighboring Russia, which has close ethnic and linguistic ties to eastern and southern Ukraine, to try to inject itself into the country’s affairs. What is more, the Kremlin would be able to hold up Ukraine as an example of what happens when former Soviet republics follow a Western model of free-market democracy.” Introducing a jury trial framework in Ukraine - particularly one that is more effective than that currently being used in Russia - will aid in the legitimization of the Ukrainian government and court system, thereby helping to stabilize the presently tumultuous relationship between Ukrainian citizens and their government.
Keywords: right to jury trial, Ukraine, Soviet Union, former Soviet republics
JEL Classification: K1, K4, K10, K19, K33, K40, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Sheyn, Elizabeth R., A Foothold for Real Democracy in Eastern Europe: How Instituting Jury Trials in Ukraine Can Bring About Meaningful Governmental and Juridical Reforms and Can Help Spread These Reforms Across Eastern Europe (December 25, 2009). Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 43, No. 3, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1473231