a principle of socialist justice, the essence of which is that judges at all levels of the judicial system as well as assessors are elected. The Program of the CPSU considers the elective judiciary one of the democratic foundations of justice.
The principle of an elective judiciary is legally secured in the Constitution of the USSR and the constitutions of the Union and autonomous republics, as well as in the Principles of Legislation on the Judicial System of the USSR and the Union and Autonomous Republics of 1958. In the USSR the principle of an elective judiciary is fully observed: the judges and people’s assessors of all courts (from the people’s courts to the Supreme Court of the USSR) are elected by the population or by the appropriate Soviets of working people’s deputies.
The judges of the main unit in the Soviet judicial system—the raion (urban) people’s court—are elected to five-year terms by the citizens of a given raion (or city) on the basis of universal, equal, and direct suffrage by secret ballot. People’s assessors are elected to two-year terms at general meetings of workers, employees, and peasants at their place of work or residence and at meetings of military personnel in their military units. Oblast, krai, and urban courts and courts of autonomous oblasts and national okrugs are elected to five-year terms by the appropriate Soviets of working people’s deputies. The Supreme Court of the USSR and the supreme courts of the Union and autonomous republics are elected to five-year terms by the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and the supreme Soviets of the Union and autonomous republics, respectively. The presiding officers, and members of military tribunals are elected by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR for a term of five years. The people’s assessors of military tribunals are elected to two-year terms by open vote at general meetings of the military personnel of a military unit or institution.
Aside from age, Soviet law recognizes no limiting qualifications for the election of judges or people’s assessors. Any citizen of the USSR who has reached the age of 25 on the day of election is eligible to be elected a judge or people’s assessor, and any citizen who is of age and is on active military service may be elected a people’s assessor on a military tribunal.
The principle of an elective judiciary is also fully observed in other socialist countries. In most bourgeois states (France, Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, for example) judges are generally appointed by the head of state. In the USA the members of judicial bodies of some of the states are elected; in other states they are appointed by the governor. Members of the higher federal judicial bodies are appointed by the president. As a rule the bourgeois nations follow the principle of the irremovability of judges—that is, judges are appointed for life.
I. D. PERLOV