International Review of Penal Law Volume: 72 Issue: 1-2 Dated: 2001 Pages: 371-403
This article discusses general issues relating to the relevancy and admissibility of evidence in procedural criminal law in Russian trials.
Issues related to the relevance and admissibility of evidence at trial only became relevant after the reintroduction of the democratic institution of trial by jury in 1993. Defendants’ trust in trial by jury, along with the approval of judges, prosecutors, attorneys, and legal pundits, has grown in criminal cases. Russian criminal procedure is divided into two stages: the preliminary investigation and the trial proceedings. Evidence is collected at the stage of preliminary investigation and compiled in a dossier. The court is responsible for examining the evidence in the case, evaluating this evidence, and reaching an appropriate judgment. The court may examine additional witnesses, order expert examinations, and make inspections of the site and premises. In order to ensure the authenticity of and verification of the data obtained, the legislator has determined by what means evidence can be obtained so as to be admissible in court. The issue of admissibility of evidence is of great importance and complexity. The next stage at which the parties have the right to address the admissibility of evidence is at the trial. This issue is considered and resolved by the court without the jury being present. The problem of “asymmetry of the rules of admissibility of evidence” arises in connection with differing views with respect to the right of the defense to use evidence obtained unlawfully. In reference to this notion, it is not possible to establish different sets of rules for introduction of evidence for the defense and the prosecution. It is believed that upon motion of the defense it should be possible to admit evidence that was obtained unlawfully by the prosecution. Some lawyers maintain that this asymmetry is possible only with respect to inadmissible evidence obtained by investigating agencies. If the evidence in question is submitted by the defense, then the issue of admissibility of such evidence should be resolved in full conformity with the rules of admissibility of evidence without any limitation. 4 footnotes