ENGLISH

 

 Supreme Soviet

of the USSR

 

 

 Act Concerning the Judicial System of the USSR

and of the Union and the Autonomous

Republics. 

August 16, 1938 

Original Source: Vedomosti, 1938, No. 11.

 

[excerpts]

 

 

 

I.

General Principles

 

 

Article 1.

 

In accordance with Article 102 of the Constitution of the USSR, justice in the USSR is administered by the Supreme Court of the USSR, the Supreme Courts of the Union Republics, the territorial and regional courts, the courts of the autonomous republics and autonomous regions, the area courts, the special courts of the USSR established by decision of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, and the people's courts.

 

 

 

Article 2.

 

It is the task of justice in the USSR to protect

 

a)

the organization of society and of the state of the USSR, the Socialist system of economy and Socialist property established by the Constitution of the USSR and the Constitutions of the Union and the autonomous republics;


b)

the political, labor, dwelling and other personal and property rights and interests of citizens of the USSR guaranteed by the Constitution of the USSR and the Constitutions of the Union and the autonomous republics;


c)

the rights and legally protected interests of state institutions, enterprises, collective farms, cooperative and other public organizations.

It is the task of justice in the USSR to secure the strict and undeviating observance of Soviet laws by all institutions, organizations, official persons and citizens of the USSR .

 

 

 

Article 3.

 

Soviet courts in applying punitive measures to criminals not only punish criminals but also aim at correcting and reforming them.

By all their activities the courts educate the citizens of the USSR in the spirit of devotion to the country and the cause of Socialism, in the spirit of strict and undeviating observance of Soviet law, of care for Socialist property, of labor discipline, honesty toward state and public duty and respect for the rules of Socialist human intercourse.

 

 

 

Article 4.

 

The courts in the USSR carry out the tasks indicated in Article 2 of the present law by:

 

a)

the hearing of criminal cases at the sittings of the courts, and the application of the punitive measures established by law to traitors to the country, wreckers, plunderers of Socialist property and other enemies of the people, as well as to robbers, thieves, rowdies and other criminals;


b)

the examination and determination at the sittings of the Court of cases involving the rights and interests of citizens, state institutions, enterprises, collective farms and other public organizations

 

 

.

Article 5.

 

Justice in the USSR is administered on the

 

a)

uniform courts equal for all citizens irrespective of their social or property status, official position, nationality or race;


b)

uniform criminal, civil and procedural legislation of the USSR binding on all courts.

 

 

 

Article 6.

 

Judges are independent and subject only to the law .

 

 

 

Article 7.

 

In accordance with Article 110 of the Constitution of the USSR, judicial proceedings in the USSR are conducted in the language of the Union republic, the autonomous republic or the autonomous region, persons not knowing this language being ensured every opportunity of fully acquainting themselves with the material pertaining to the case through an interpreter and likewise the right to

 

 

Article 8.

 

In accordance with Article 111 of the Constitution of the USSR in all courts of the USSR cases are heard in public unless otherwise provided for by law, and the accused is guaranteed the right of counsel for defense.

 

 

 

Article 9.

 

In accordance with Article 103 of the Constitution of the USSR, in all courts cases are tried with the participation of

 

 

Article 10.

 

In accordance with Articles 105, 106, 107, 108 and 109 of the Constitution of the USSR, courts in the USSR are elective, being formed in the manner established by the present law.

 

 

 

Article 11.

 

Any citizen who enjoys electoral rights may be elected judge of people's assessor.

 

 

 

Article 12.

 

People's assessors are summoned for the performance of their duties in court in the order in which they appear on the panel for not more than ten days a year except when an extension of this period is called forth by the necessity of the people's assessors taking part in the completion of the hearing of a case in court.

During the performance of their duties in court people's assessors have all the rights of judges.

 

 

 

Article 13.

 

People's assessors who are workers or employees are paid their wages in full for the entire period of their service in court.

In all other cases people's assessors are reimbursed the expenses they incurred in the performance of their duties in court in the manner established by the laws of the Union republics.

 

 

 

Article 14.

 

In all courts cases are heard by a judge and two people's assessors, except cases specially provided for by law which are heard by three members of the court.

 

 

 

Article 15.

 

The sentences, judgments and orders of all courts except the Supreme Court of the USSR and the Supreme Courts of the Union republics may be appealed by those convicted or their counsel, by plaintiffs, defendants and persons representing their interests, or may be protested by the Procurator to the higher court in the manner provided by law...

 

 

 

Article 16.

 

Judicial sentences, judgments and orders which have become legally effective can be protested only by the Procurator of the USSR or the Procurator of the Union Republic, the President of the Supreme Court of the USSR or the President of the Supreme Court of the Union republic in accordance with Articles 51, 64 and 74 of the present Act.

 

 

 

Article 17.

 

Judges may be relieved of their posts and people's assessors of their duties solely by the recall of their electors or by virtue of a sentence of court against them.

 

 

 

Article 18.

 

The institution of criminal proceedings against judges and their consequent removal from office, arraignment and trial are effected in the following manner: in respect to people's judges, members of territorial, regional or area courts and of courts of autonomous regions, and members of the Supreme Courts of Union or autonomous republics--by decision of the Procurator of the Union republic with the sanction of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Union republic; in respect to members of the Supreme Court of the USSR and of the special courts of the USSR -by decision of the Procurator of the USSR with the sanction of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR

 

 

 

 

 

II.

The People's Courts

 

 

Article 21.

 

The People's courts hear:

 

a)

criminal cases:

concerning offenses against the life, health, liberty or dignity of citizens- -concerning murder, the infliction of bodily harm, the procuring of illegal abortions, unlawful deprivation of liberty, rape, willful non-payment of alimony, insult, rowdyism, slander;
concerning offenses against property- -aggravated robbery, robbery, larceny, fraud, extortion;
concerning offenses committed by official persons in the discharge of their official duties--abuse of one's authority, exceeding one's authority, malfeasance, embezzlement, mismanagement, forgery, short weight or short measure, overcharging;
concerning offenses in violation of administrative regulations: violations of the election law, willful nonpayment of taxes and levies established by law, refusal to comply with provisions for deliveries to the state or for compulsory services to the state, evasion of the call to the colors and of the duties of military service, violation of lawful orders of organs 'of the government;

 

b

) civil cases--relating to property suits, relating to suits arising out of violations of labor laws, relating to suits for the payment of alimony, relating to suits concerning inheritance; and other criminal and civil cases over which they are given jurisdiction by law.

 

 

 

Article 22.

 

On the basis of Article 109 of the Constitution of the USSR, people's courts are elected by the citizens of the district on the basis of universal, direct and equal suffrage and secret ballot for a term of three years.

 

 

 

Article 23.

 

People's judges and people's assessors are elected by the citizens of the districts according to election areas; the election area for the election of people's judges and people's assessors comprises the total population residing on the territory under the jurisdiction of the particular people's court.

 

 

 

Article 24.

 

The right to nominate candidates for people's judges and people's assessors is secured to the public organizations and societies of the working people: to the Communist Party organizations, the trade unions, cooperatives, youth organizations and cultural societies, and also; to the general meetings - of workers and employees held at the respective enterprises, of persons in military service held in the respective military units, and to the general meetings--

of peasants held on the respective collective farms, of state-farm workers and employees held on the respective state farms.

 

 

Article 26.

 

The number of people's courts for each district is fixed by the Council of People's Commissars of the Union republic on the recommendation of the People's Commissar of Justice of the Union republic. In the autonomous republics the number of people's courts for each district is fixed by the Council of People's Commissars of the autonomous republic on the recommendation of the People's Commissar of Justice of the autonomous republic.

 

 

 

Article 27.

 

Before hearing a case at a sitting of the court, the people's court:

 

a)

confirms the indictment submitted by the procurator. In case it disagrees with the indictment, the people's court has the right to refer the case back to the procurator for further investigation or to discontinue the case if there be sufficient grounds;


b)

decides whether the accused is to be placed in custody or released from custody;


c)

renders a decision on whether the attendance of the counsel for the defense and of the procurator at the examination of the case shall be obligatory.

 

 

 

Article 28.

 

The people's judge:

 

a)

on receiving complaints or information renders a decision whether a criminal prosecution shall be instituted or disallowed;


b)

if necessary, forwards the information or complaints to the investigating authorities for inquiry;


c)

sets down cases for a hearing;


d)

gives orders to summon the accused, the witnesses and the expert witnesses to court and notifies the plaintiffs and defendants of the times when their cases will be heard;


e)

presides at the sittings of the people's court.

 

 

 

Article 29.

 

People's judges account to the electors for their

 

 

 

 

 

III.

The Territorial, The Regional and The Area Courts

 

 

Article 30.

 

In accordance with Article 108 of the Constitution of the USSR, the territorial, the regional and the area courts and the courts of the autonomous regions are elected by the territorial, regional, or area Soviets of Toilers' Deputies or by the Soviets of Toilers' Deputies of the autonomous regions for a term of five years.

 

 

 

Article 31.

 

The territorial, the regional and the area courts and the courts of the autonomous regions consist each of a President, Vice- Presidents, members of the court and people's assessors summoned to take part in the hearing of judicial cases.

 

 

 

Article 32.

 

The territorial, the regional and the area courts and the courts of the autonomous regions hear the criminal cases over which they are given jurisdiction by law concerning counterrevolutionary offenses, concerning offenses of extraordinary danger directed against the administrative system of the state, concerning thefts of Socialist property, concerning offenses of extraordinary gravity in the performance of official duties or of duties of an economic character, and also civil cases over which they are given jurisdiction by law concerning disputes between state and public institutions, enterprises and organizations.

The territorial, the regional and the area courts and the courts of the autonomous regions in addition hear appeals from and protests against sentences, judgments or orders of the people's courts.

 

 

 

Article 33.

 

The territorial, the regional and the area courts and the courts of the autonomous regions are each composed of and function through:

 

a)

a Court Collegium for Criminal Cases...


b

) a Court Collegium for Civil Cases...

 

 

 

Article 34.

 

The Court Collegiums of the territorial, regional and area courts and the courts of the autonomous regions when hearing criminal or civil cases are composed of a presiding officer--the

 

 

 

Article 35.

 

The Court Collegiums of the territorial, regional and area courts and the courts of the autonomous regions when hearing appeals from and protests against sentences, judgments or orders of the people's courts, are composed of three members of the court in question.

 

 

 

 

IV.

The Supreme Courts of the Autonomous Republics

 

 

Article 38.

 

In accordance with Article 107 of the Constitution of the USSR, the Supreme Courts of the autonomous republics are elected by the Supreme Soviets of the autonomous republics for a term of five years.

 

 

 

Article 39.

 

The Supreme Courts of the autonomous republics consist each of a President, Vice-Presidents, members of the court and people's assessors summoned to take part in the examination of judicial cases.

 

 

 

Article 40.

 

The Supreme Courts of the autonomous republics hear the criminal cases over which they are given jurisdiction by law concerning counter-revolutionary offenses, concerning offenses of extraordinary danger directed against the administrative system of the state, concerning thefts of Socialist property, concerning offenses of especial gravity in the performance of official duties or of duties of an economic character, and also civil cases over which they are given jurisdiction by law concerning disputes between state and public institutions, enterprises and organizations.

 

 

 

Article 41.

 

The Supreme Courts of the autonomous republics are each composed of and function through:

 

a)

a Court Collegium for Criminal Cases- -to hear the criminal cases over which the Supreme Courts of the autonomous republics are given jurisdiction, and likewise to hear the appeals from and protests against sentences or orders of the people's courts.


b)

a Court Collegium for Civil Cases--to hear the civil cases over which the Supreme Courts of the autonomous republic are given jurisdiction, and likewise to hear the appeals from and protests against judgments or orders of the people's courts.

 

 

 

Article 42.

 

The Court Collegiums of the Supreme Courts of the autonomous republics when hearing cases are composed of a presiding officer--the President or a member of the Supreme Court--and two

 

 

 

Article 43.

 

The Court Collegiums of the Supreme Courts of the autonomous republics when hearing appeals from and protests against sentences, judgments or orders of the people's courts are composed of three members of the Supreme Court of the autonomous republic.

 

 

 

 

 

V.

The Supreme Courts of the Union Republics

 

 

Article 45.

 

The Supreme Court of each Union Republic is the highest judicial organ of that Union republic. The Supreme Courts of the Union republics are charged with the function of supervising the judicial activities of all the judicial organs of the respective Union republics, and of the autonomous republics, the territories, regions and areas forming part of these Union republics.

 

 

 

Article 46

 

. In accordance with Article 106 of the Constitution of the USSR, the Supreme Courts of the Union republics are elected by the Supreme Soviets of the Union republics for a term of five years.

 

 

 

Article 47.

 

The Supreme Courts of the Union republics consist each of a President, Vice- Presidents, members of the court and people's assessors summoned to take part in the hearing of judicial cases.

 

 

 

Article 48.

 

The Supreme Courts of the Union republics are each composed of and function through:

 

a)

a Court Collegium for Criminal Cases--to bear the criminal cases over which the Supreme Courts of the Union republics are given jurisdiction by law, and likewise to hear the appeals from and protests against sentences or orders of the territorial, regional and other courts of the Union republics;


b)

a Court Collegium for Civil Cases--to hear the civil cases over which the Supreme Courts of the Union republics are given jurisdiction by law, and likewise to hear the appeals from and protests against judgments or orders of the territorial, regional and other courts of the Union republics.

 

 

 

Article 49.

 

The Court Collegiums of the Supreme Courts of the Union republics when hearing cases are each composed of a presiding officer--the President or a member of the Supreme Court--and two

 

 

 

Article 50.

 

The Court Collegiums of the Supreme Courts of the Union republics when hearing appeals from and protests against sentences, judgments or orders of the territorial, regional and other courts of the Union republics are composed of three members of the Supreme Courts.

 

 

 

Article 51.

 

The Supreme Court of a Union republic supervises the judicial activities of the courts of the Republic by:

 

a)

hearing the protests of the Procurator of the USSR, the Procurator of the Union republic, the President of the Supreme Court of the USSR, and the President of the Supreme Court of the Union republic against sentences, judgments or orders which have become legally effective:


b)

hearing at sittings of the court the appeals and protests in cases decided by the courts of the Union republic.

 

 

 

 

 

VI.

The Special Courts of the USSR

 

 

Article 53.

 

On the basis of Article 102 of the Constitution of the USSR there function the following special courts of the USSR:

 

a)

military tribunals;


b)

railroad line courts;


c)

water-transport line courts.

 

 

 

Article 54.

 

In accordance with Article 105 of the Constitution of the USSR, the President, the Vice-Presidents and the members of the special courts of the USSR are elected by the Supreme Soviet of the

 

 

 

Article 55.

 

People's assessors elected by the territorial and regional Soviets of Toilers' Deputies and by the Supreme Soviets of the Union and autonomous republics are drawn upon to take part in the sittings of the military tribunals and of the railroad line and water transport line courts.

 

 

 

Article 56.

 

The military tribunals and the railroad line and water-transport line courts when hearing cases are composed of a presiding officer--the President or a member of the court-and two people's assessors, except cases which according to law are tried by a court composed of three members of the court in question.

 

 

 

Article 57.

 

The military tribunals are organized:

 

a)

in military areas, at fronts and in maritime fleets;


b)

in armies, army corps and other military units, and in militarized institutions.

 

 

 

Article 58.

 

The military tribunals hear the cases concerning military offenses, and also the other crimes over which they are given

 

 

 

Article 59.

 

The military tribunals of areas, fronts and maritime fleets hear the criminal cases over which they are given jurisdiction by law, and likewise hear the appeals from and the protests against sentences in cases tried by the military tribunals of armies, army corps and other military units, and of militarized institutions.

 

 

 

Article 60.

 

The railroad line and water-transport line courts hear the cases over which they are given jurisdiction by law, concerning offences calculated to subvert labor discipline in the transport services and other offenses preventing the normal operation of the transport services.

 

 

 

Article 61.

 

The railroad line and water transport line courts are organized on the railroad lines and the water transport lines, as the case may be.

 

 

 

 

 

VII.

The Supreme Court of the USSR

 

 

Article 63.

 

In accordance with Articles 104 and 105 of the Constitution of the USSR, the Supreme Court of the USSR is its highest judicial organ and is elected by the Supreme Soviet of the USSR for a term of five years.

The Supreme Court of the USSR is charged with the function of supervising the judicial activities of all the judicial organs of the USSR and of the Union republics.

 

 

 

Article 64.

 

The Supreme Court performs the function of supervising the judicial activities of all the judicial organs of the USSR and of the Union republics by:

 

a)

hearing the protests of the Procurator of the USSR and of the President of the Supreme Court of the USSR against judicial sentences, judgments or orders which have become legally effective;


b)

hearing appeals and protests in cases tried by military tribunals and by railroad line and water-transport line courts.

 

 

 

Article 65.

 

The Supreme Court of the USSR consists of a President, Vice- Presidents, members of the Supreme Court and people's assessors summoned to take part in the hearing of judicial cases, and is composed of and functions through:

 

a) a Court Collegium for Criminal Cases;


b) a Court Collegium for Civil Cases;


c) a Military Collegium;


d) a Railroad Collegium;


e) a Water-Transport Collegium.

 

 

 

Article 66.

 

The Court Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR for Criminal Cases hears the criminal cases over which it is given jurisdiction by law, and likewise hears the protests against sentences

 

 

 

Article 67.

 

The Court Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR for Civil Cases hears the civil cases over which it is given jurisdiction by law, and likewise hears the protests against judgments or orders of the Supreme Courts of the Union republics.

 

 

 

Article 68.

 

The Court Collegiums of the Supreme Court of the USSR for Criminal and Civil Cases when hearing cases are composed of a presiding officer--the President or a member of the Supreme Court of the USSR --and two people Is assessors.

The Court Collegiums of the Supreme Court of the USSR for Criminal and Civil Cases when hearing protests against sentences, orders or judgments of the Supreme Courts of the Union Republics are composed of three members of the Supreme Court of the USSR

 

 

 

Article 69.

 

The Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR hears the cases over which it is given jurisdiction by law, and likewise hears the protests against and the appeals from sentences or orders of the military tribunals.

 

 

 

Article 70.

 

The Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR when hearing cases is composed of a presiding officer--the President or a member of the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR --and two people Is assessors, except cases specially provided for by the Code of Criminal Procedure, which are heard by three members of the Military Collegium.

The Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR when hearing protests against and appeals from sentences or orders of military tribunals is composed of three members of the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR

 

 

 

Article 71.

 

The Railroad and Water-Transport Collegiums of the Supreme Court of the USSR hear the cases concerning crimes over which they are given jurisdiction by law, and likewise hear the protests against and the appeals from sentences or orders of the railroad line and the water-transport line courts.

 

 

 

Article 72.

 

The Railroad and Water-Transport Collegiums of the Supreme Court of the USSR when hearing cases are composed of a presiding officer--the President or a member of the collegium in question--and two people's assessors.

 

 

 

Article 73.

 

The Railroad and Water-Transport Collegiums of the Supreme Court of the USSR when hearing protests against and appeals from sentences or orders of the railroad line and water-transport line court are composed of three members of the respective collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR

 

 

 

Article 74.

 

The President of the Supreme Court of the USSR may assume the presidency in any case under examination by a collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR

The President of the Supreme Court of the USSR and the Procurator of the USSR have the right to demand the record of any case from any court of the USSR or of the Union republics and file their protests in the case in the manner provided by law.

 

 

 

Article 75.

 

Protests against sentences, judgments or orders of the collegiums of the Supreme Court of the USSR filed by the President of the Supreme Court of the USSR or the Procurator of the USSR are heard by a Plenary Sitting of the Supreme Court of the USSR called for this purpose, which likewise gives guiding instructions on questions of judicial practice on the basis of the decisions adopted in the judicial cases examined by the Supreme Court of the USSR

 

 

 

Article 76.

 

A Plenary Sitting of the Supreme Court of the USSR consists of the President of the Supreme Court of the USSR, the Vice-Presidents and all the members of the Supreme Court of the USSR

When the Supreme Court of the USSR holds a Plenary Sitting, it is obligatory for the Procurator of the USSR to take part therein.

When the Supreme Court of the USSR holds a Plenary Sitting, the People's Commissar of Justice of the USSR takes part in the sitting.

 

 

 

Article 77.

 

Plenary Sittings of the Supreme Court of the USSR are convened not less than once in two months.

 

 

 

 

 

VII.

Court Deputies

 

 

Article 78.

 

The judgments and orders in civil cases and the sentences in criminal cases in respect to fines and confiscations are carried into execution by court deputies.

 

 

 

Article 79.

 

The court deputies are attached to the people's courts, the area. the territorial and the regional courts, the courts of the autonomous regions and the Supreme Courts of the autonomous and the Union republics, and are appointed by the People's Commissariats of Justice of the Union republics, and in the autonomous republics by the People's Commissariats of Justice of the Union republics, and in the autonomous regions by the People's Commissariats of Justice of the autonomous republics.

Article 80. Writs of execution of judicial sentences, judgments and orders served by court deputies are binding on all official persons and other citizens.

 

 

M. Kalinin


Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR

 

 

A. Gorkin


Secretary of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR

Source: Second Session of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R.,

 

 

August 10-21, 1938, Verbatim Report. 

 

New Vork: International Publishers, 1938.

 

 

 

 

 

CCCP

Soviet Union of Lenin and Stalin