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in the USSR, the court of first instance in a city district or in a city not subdivided into districts. The primary link in the court system, the people’s court hears all criminal and civil cases arising in a given territory, with the exception of cases assigned by law to the jurisdiction of other courts and certain cases involving administrative violations. In addition, the people’s court hears cases involving citizen complaints of improper inclusion on or exclusion from voter lists for elections to local soviets.
The principles by which the people’s courts are organized in the Soviet state were set down during the first years of Soviet power. The decree on courts that was issued on Nov. 24, 1917 (Collection of Laws and Regulations of the Worker and Peasant Government, 1917, no. 4, Art. 50), which established the people’s courts, laid down the fundamentals of the Soviet judicial system. The 1936 Constitution of the USSR and subsequent laws based on it have reinforced and expanded the democratic principles of the structure and function of the people’s courts. The people’s courts are elected and are thus accountable to the voters; they are collegial, with all cases being heard by a people’s judge and two people’s assessors; and they are independent in their administration of justice.
Verdicts and orders in civil cases and judgments in cases involving the recovery of property are carried out by the bailiffs of the people’s court. People’s courts play a significant role in protecting socialist property; the personal property of citizens; the political, labor, housing, and other personal and property rights of citizens of the USSR; and the property rights of kolkhozes and of state and other public organizations.