Supreme Court of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Supreme Court of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

 

the highest judicial organ of the USSR. The Supreme Court of the USSR is responsible for supervising the court activities of the judicial organs of the USSR and the union republics and verifying the application of all-Union legislation and execution of decrees of the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the USSR by the judicial organs of the Union republics.

The Supreme Court of the USSR was established in 1924. It has the right of legislative initiative. The Supreme Court of the USSR decides questions of legal aid stemming from treaties concluded with other states in cases and in a manner stipulated by the law.

According to the Constitution of the USSR (art. 105), the chairman, his deputies, the members of the court, and the people’s assessors of the Supreme Court of the USSR are elected by the Supreme Soviet of the USSR for five-year terms. The chairmen of the supreme courts of the Union republics are members ex officio of the Supreme Court of the USSR. The organization and activity of the Supreme Court of the USSR is regulated by the Statute on the Supreme Court of the USSR of 1957 (with modifications and amendments according to the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of Sept. 30, 1967), as well as by the Principles of Legislation on Judicial Administration of the USSR and the Union and Autonomous Republics of 1958. The Supreme Court of the USSR is made up of the Plenum and three judicial divisions: the civil cases division, the criminal cases division, and the military division. The judicial divisions are courts of first instance for exceptionally important cases that the law has referred to their jurisdiction. By way of court supervision, the judicial divisions also handle protests against decisions and sentences of the supreme courts of the Union republics. The competence of each division is determined by the law. As a court of first instance, a judicial division is composed of a chairman who is a member of the Supreme Court and two people’s assessors. In other cases a division is composed of three members of the Supreme Court.

The plenary sessions of the Supreme Court of the USSR (plenums) meet at least once every three months. The Plenum confirms the composition of the judicial divisions and examines protests against decisions, sentences, and rulings of the judicial divisions of the Supreme Court of the USSR and decrees of the supreme courts of the Union republics. It examines materials pertaining to the generalization of court practice and statistics and gives the courts guiding explanations on the application of legislation in judicial cases. The Plenum submits to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR proposals on questions subject to solution by legislation and questions of interpreting the laws of the USSR. It resolves disputes between court organs of the Union republics and hears accounts of the activity of the judicial divisions and reports of the chairmen of the supreme courts of the Union republics about the practice of applying all-Union legislation and decrees of the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the USSR. The sessions of the Plenum are obligatorily attended by the procurator general of the USSR.

The Scientific Consultation Council is attached to the Supreme Court of the USSR. Since 1957 the court has published a periodical organ, Biulleten’ Verkhovnogo Suda SSSR (Bulletin of the Supreme Court of the USSR). From 1943 to 1954 it published the bulletin Sudebnaia praktika Verkhovnogo Suda SSSR (Court Practice of the Supreme Court of the USSR). Biulleten’ Verkhovnogo Suda SSSR prints guiding explanations of the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the USSR on questions of court practice, decrees of the Plenum, and rulings of the judicial divisions of the Supreme Court of the USSR on individual cases that are of interest for court practice.

There are supreme courts in all the Union and autonomous republics. The structure and procedure of the supreme courts of the Union republics are very similar to the structure and procedure of the Supreme Court of the USSR.

REFERENCE

Dobrovol’skaia, T. N. Verkhovnyi sud SSSR. Moscow, 1966.

V. I. TEREBILOV

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