Kathryn Hendley, LAPA Fellow; University of Wisconsin-Madison

"Everyday Law in Russia – The View from the Bench"

Mon, 04/01/2013
4:30-6 PM, Kerstetter Room, Marx Hall
Event Category: 

Please join us for a LAPA Seminar with Kathryn Hendley, Voss-Bascom Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who will present "Everyday Law in Russia – The View from the Bench."  Her commentator is Cathy A. Frierson, Professor of History at the University of New Hampshire.

As always, the LAPA format asks that seminar participants familiarize themselves with the paper in advance. The commentator will open the session by summarizing the main themes in the paper and presenting some topics for discussion. The author then has the right of first response before we open to the floor for questions. The seminar will end with a brief reception in the Kerstetter Room, giving everyone a chance to mingle and meet. 

Abstract: "Forget everything you think you know about Russian law.  In this paper, Hendley looks past the usual story of courts as handmaidens to the Kremlin to how ordinary Russians experience law.  Based on in-depth field work in justice-of-the-peace courts in eight cities in Russia, she explores how the judges at these courts cope with an ever-growing number of cases and how they see themselves.  Hendley argues that the biggest challenge facing judges is not "telephone law" (the practice of political elites calling judges to influence case outcomes), but managing their docket.  Russian procedural codes impose strict deadlines for resolving cases.  Judges who run afoul are subject to informal sanctions and risk losing year-end bonuses as well as any chance for advancement.  Those familiar with small-claims courts elsewhere will find many similarities to the Russian case." 

Kathryn Hendley is Voss-Bascom Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on legal reform in post-Soviet Russia. She has published widely on issues relating to how ordinary Russians experience law. Her research is based upon extensive field work in Russia and engagement with Russians. Her work has been supported by grants and fellowships from many sources including the National Science Foundation, the National Council on Eurasian and East European Research, the World Bank, and Fulbright Scholar Program. She received her J.D. from UCLA School of Law and her Ph.D. from University of California, Berkley. Professor Hendley spent the 2011-12 academic year in Russia on a Fulbright research fellowship and an Ed Hewett fellowship exploring Russians' access to justice. At Princeton she is working on a monograph about how law works in Russia, tentatively titled "Everyday Law in Russia."

Cathy A. Frierson is Professor of History at the University of New Hampshire, where she has held the Arthur K Whitcomb and Class of 1941 Research Professorships.    The author or editor of six books, with a seventh in the pipeline, Professor Frierson has also written a series of articles on legal consciousness and the rule of law in late Imperial Russia.  Her current project is an analysis of the 20-year record of the 1991 law "On the Rehabilitation of Victims of Political Repression" in the Russian Federation.