Judicial Investigators of Siberia: “Transitional” Justice of the Late 19th Century
Keywords:Russian Empire in the late 19th century, justice reform, judicial investigators, police, crime, Siberia
One of the means of improving Russian justice in the era of Alexander II was the introduction of judicial investigators. Belatedly, in 1885, they were introduced into the pre-reform Siberian justice system and until 1897, were intended to investigate crimes together with police officials, which was a kind of transitional step towards the subsequent improvement of the court. The use of micro-historic detailing, as well as legislative acts, reports, materials of personal origin, statistics, periodicals, and archival documentation make it possible to comprehensively examine the activities of specialist investigators in Siberia on the eve of the Judicial Statutes of 1864 applied to the region, thereby significantly supplementing the ideas about the patterns of transformations of justice in the late Russian Empire, conditions of functioning of state bodies on the Siberian outskirts and their critical condition. The reform of 1885 was inconsistent, and as a result, the investigative part did not have sufficient resources or the ability to fight crime effectively. The content and staff of judicial investigators turned out to be insignificant; many were young and had no professional experience. Also, they fell into a hostile bureaucratic environment, managed extensive areas and were guided by outdated rules of procedure, but at the same time, they demonstrated official superiority in investigations over different ranks of the police. The latter ones were quite often ignorant and did not try to perform their secondary investigative duties. The activities of police officials were characterised by slowness and lack of professionalism, which worsened the performance of the entire Siberian investigative apparatus. Audits revealed systemic disorders and caused its arsenal to be regarded as unsuitable for defeating crime, and in government circles, the idea of the need for a new judicial transformation in Siberia prevailed. Having become a part of archaic justice in 1885–1897, the institution of judicial investigators confirmed the impossibility of the continued existence of “transitional” justice and called for the need to apply Judicial Statutes in full.
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