Egorov D. V. Historical portrait of volost judge (.pdf)


In the second half of the 19th century, the judicial system of the Russian Empire underwent essential changes. In 1861, a new local judicial institute – the volost court urged to consider peasant legal relationship was established. The institute became an important regulator of public relations, despite of legal isolation of rural people and existence of informal courts in a community. The historical portrait of volost judge of 1861–1917 is presented in the article on the example of Kazan and Simbirsk provinces. According to the laws of 1861, 1889 and 1912, age, moral and educational qualifications, and the status of householder were criteria for the position. In general, jurisdiction of volost judges was limited to small crimes, disputes and litigation over property. Priority tasks of volost judges were reconciliation and overcoming of conflict situations according to justice. At the same time, they were dependent on and controlled by higher officials and instances, as well as by local rich peasants; therefore, they sometimes abused the situation. As a result, volost judges faced problems in gaining credibility in rural society. The public trust to volost courts increased only in the late 19th – early 20th centuries when they became a kind of second judicial instances, appeal institutes on unfair solutions of communal courts. Volost judges were important arbitrators in regulating law and order and in permission of various collisions in the village. They played a significant role in forming and developing legal culture of the peasantry. They contributed to gradual transformation of public opinion on law and justice, creation of system of social control over offenders, changes in legal awareness of peasants and practical upholding of their rights and interests in an official court. Due to the functioning of volost court and the activities of volost judges, peasants began to realize a number of legal subtleties and procedures, to attract proofs of their correctness, and the law gradually became a part of their life.


Key words: volost judge, volost court, jurisdiction, peasantry, Kazan and Simbirsk provinces.


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