Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




Judicial Independence in Russia: What Do Russians Think?
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Please join us for an event in our Rule of Law in Autocracy: The Legal Dimension of Russian Politics speaker series, a presentation by Kathryn Hendley (University of Wisconsin-Madison).

Scholars have long debated whether judicial independence can exist under authoritarianism. Missing from this debate are the voices of those living under authoritarianism. Kathryn Hendley’s presentation refocuses attention on these voices. Drawing on responses to a question that asked Russians whether they thought their judges were under the thumb of political elites, which was included in two surveys fielded independently in 2008 and 2018, her analysis explores what factors drive the respondents’ beliefs and the extent to which their attitudes have evolved over time. Among the relationships to be explored are the role of respondents’ education, their experiences with the legal system, and their attitudes towards law.

Kathryn HendleyKathryn Hendley is the Roman Z. Livshits & William Voss-Bascom Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on legal reform in Russia with a particular emphasis on how ordinary Russians experience law. Hendley’s work has been published in a wide variety of peer-reviewed journals and law reviews. Her most recent articles focus on the Russian legal profession and are based on an analysis of a recent survey of Russian law students on the cusp of graduation. Her monograph, Everyday Law in Russia (Cornell University Press, 2017), is based on participant-observation research in the recently-created justice-of-the-peace courts as well as on focus groups conducted in the summers of 2007 and 2008. Her research documents the dualistic nature of the Russian legal system and on the willingness of Russians to make use of the formal legal system. Hendley has been a Fulbright scholar in Russia, as well as a visiting scholar at Princeton University, Notre Dame University, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Her research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Council on Eurasian and East European Research, IREX, the Social Science Research Council, and the World Bank. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and her J.D. from the UCLA School of Law.

This event is supported by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York.


Event Video