Ø 1) Read the text and translate it into Russian.
According to the Constitution, which was adopted by national referendum on 12 December 1993 following the 1993 Russian constitutional crisis, Russia is a federation and formally a semi-presidential republic, wherein the President is the Head of state and the Prime Minister is the Head of government. The Russian Federation is fundamentally structured as a representative democracy.
The federal government is composed of three branches:
Legislative:The national legislature is the Federal Assembly, which consists of two chambers: the 450-member State Duma and the 176-member Federation Council. The bicameral Federal Assembly adopts federal law, declares war, approves treaties, and has the power of impeachment, by which it can remove the President. The government is regulated by a system of checks and balances defined by the Constitution of the Russian Federation, which serves as the country’s supreme legal document and as a social contract for the people of the Russian Federation.
Executive:Executive power is exercised by the government. The President is the commander-in-chief of the military. He can veto legislative bills before they become law, and he appoints the Cabinet and other officers, who administer and enforce federal laws and policies. The President is elected by popular vote for a six-year term (eligible for a second term but constitutionally barred for a third consecutive term). Ministries of the government are composed of the Premier and his Deputies, Ministers, and selected other individuals; all are appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Prime Minister (whereas the appointment of the latter requires the consent of the State Duma).
Judiciary: The Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court of Arbitration and lower federal courts, whose judges are appointed by the Federation Council on the recommendation of the President, interpret laws and can overturn laws they deem unconstitutional. According to the Constitution, constitutional justice in the court is based on the equality of all citizens, judges are independent and subject only to the law, trials are to be open and the accused is guaranteed a defense. Since 1996, Russia has instituted a moratorium on the death penalty in Russia, although capital punishment has not been abolished by law.
Leading political parties in Russia include United Russia, the Communist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, and Fair Russia.
Ø 2) The text contains a number of words to describe the structure of the Russian Federation. How many can you find?
Ø 3) Look at the phrases taken from the text. What do they mean?
a)according to the Constitution;
c)a semi-presidential republic;
d)a representative democracy;
e)the 450-member State Duma;
f)the 176-member Federation Council;
g)the bicameral Federal Assembly;
h)a system of checks and balances;
i)is elected by popular vote;
j)judges are independent and subject only to the law;
k)leading political parties.
FROM The Constitution of the Russian Federation
Ø 1) Read and say what new facts you have learnt from the text.
CHAPTER 7. JUDICIAL POWER
1. Justice in the Russian Federation shall be administered by courts alone.
2. The judicial power shall be exercised by means of constitutional, civil, administrative and criminal proceedings.
3. The judicial system of the Russian Federation shall be instituted by the Constitution of the Russian Federation and the federal constitutional law. The creation of extraordinary courts shall not be allowed.
1. Judges may be citizens of the Russian Federation over 25 years of age with a higher education in law and a law service record of not less than five years. The federal law may introduce additional requirements for judges of the courts of the Russian Federation.
1. Judges shall be independent and submit only to the Constitution and the federal law.
2. If after considering a case, the court of law decides that an act of a state or other body contradicts the law, it shall pass an appropriate decision according to the law.
1. Judges shall be irremovable.
2. The powers of a judge be ceased or suspended only on the grounds and according to the rules fixed by the federal law.
1. Judges shall possess immunity.
2. A judge may not face criminal responsibility otherwise than according to the rules fixed by the federal law.
1. Examination of cases in all courts shall be open. Examinations in camera shall be allowed only in cases envisaged by the federal law.
2. Trial by default in criminal courts shall not be allowed except in cases fixed by the federal law.
3. Judicial proceedings shall be held on the basis of controversy and equality of the parties.
4. In cases fixed by the federal law justice shall be administered by a court of jury.
1. The courts shall be financed only from the federal budget and the possibility of the complete and independent administration of justice shall be ensured in keeping with the requirements of federal law.
1. The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation consists of 19 judges.
2. The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation upon requests of the President of the Russian Federation, the Council of the Federation, the State Duma, one fifth of the members of the Council of the Federation or of the deputies of the State Duma, the Government of the Russian Federation, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation and the Higher Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation, the bodies of legislative and executive power of the subjects of the Russian Federation shall consider cases on the correspondence to the Constitution of the Russian Federation of:
· the federal laws, normative acts of the President of the Russian Federation, the Council of the Federation, the State Duma, the Government of the Russian Federation;
· the constitutions of republics, charters, and also the laws and other normative acts of the subjects of the Russian Federation adopted on the issues under the jurisdiction of the bodies of state authority of the Russian Federation or under the joint jurisdiction of the bodies of state authority of the Russian Federation and the bodies of state authority of the subjects of the Russian Federation;
· the treaties concluded between the bodies of state authority of the Russian Federation and the bodies of state authority of the subjects of the Russian Federation, the treaties concluded between the bodies of state authority of the subjects of the Russian Federation;
· international treaties and agreements of the Russian Federation which have not come into force.
3. The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation shall resolve disputes on jurisdiction matters:
· between the federal bodies of state authority;
· between the bodies of state authority of the Russian Federation and the bodies of state authority of the subjects of the Russian Federation;
· between the higher bodies of state authority of the subjects of the Russian Federation.
4. The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, upon complaints about violations of constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens and upon court requests shall check, according to the rules fixed by the federal law, the constitutionality of a law applied or subject to be applied in a concrete case.
5. The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, upon the requests of the President of the Russian Federation, the Council of the Federation, the State Duma, the Government of the Russian Federation, the bodies of the legislative power of the subjects of the Russian Federation, shall give its interpretation of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.
6. Acts or their certain provisions recognized as unconstitutional shall become invalid; international treaties and agreements not corresponding to the Constitution of the Russian Federation shall not be liable for enforcement and application.
7. The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, upon the request of the Council of the Federation, shall provide a conclusion on the observance of the fixed procedure for advancing charges of treason or of another grave crime against the President of the Russian Federation.
1.The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation shall be the supreme judicial body for civil, criminal, administrative and other cases under the jurisdiction of common courts, shall carry out judicial supervision over their activities according to federal law-envisaged procedural forms and provide explanations on the issues of court proceedings.
1. The Higher Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation shall be the supreme judicial body for settling economic disputes and other cases examined by courts of arbitration shall carry out judicial supervision over their activities according to federal law-envisaged procedural forms and provide explanations on the issues of court proceedings.
1. The judges of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, the Higher Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation shall be appointed by the Council of the Federation upon the proposals by the President of the Russian Federation.
2. Judges of other federal courts shall be appointed by the President of the Russian Federation according to the rules fixed by the federal law.
3. The powers, the rules for forming and functioning of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation and the Higher Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation shall be fixed by the federal constitutional law.
1. The Procurator’s Office of the Russian Federation shall form single centralized structure in which procurators are subordinate to superior procurators and the Procurator-General of the Russian Federation.
2. The Procurator-General of the Russian Federation shall be appointed and dismissed by the Council of the Federation upon the proposal of the President of the Russian Federation.
3. The procurators of the subjects of the Russian Federation shall be appointed by the Procurator-General of the Russian Federation by agreement with the subjects.
4. Other procurators shall be appointed by the Procurator-General of the Russian Federation.
5. The powers, organization and the rules of the functioning of the Procurator’s Office of the Russian Federation shall be determined by the federal law.
Ø 2) What adjectives are used to describe a judge?
Ø 3) What professions in the sphere of law are given in the text?
Ø 4) Write a summary of the text.
7.3 The Reform of Local Government in Russia
Ø 1) Read the heading and the words from the text and guess what reforms this text is about: distinction, state, self-government, national. Regional, cities, districts, authority, inconsistency, responsibilities, in favor of, sufficient funding.
Ø 2) Skim the text and name the “signal words” that help the author to introduce a new idea, to develop the idea, to provide examples, to explain the idea, to make a conclusion.
(1)Article 12 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation makes a distinction between “state power” and “local self-government.” According to the Constitution, the institutions of the national government and the regional governments (oblasts, republics, etc.) comprise the organs of state power, while the institutions of cities and districts (“raions,” roughly equivalent to counties in the USA) are not part of the state, but are organs of local self-government. Thus the Constitution accepted the distinction between state authority and local self-government. The greatest problem was though the inconsistency between the stated responsibilities of local self-government and its financial capabilities.
(2)The new law on local self-government was adopted by the Parliament in 2003. The adoption of this law seemed to mark a shift in favor of the governors. The law was supposed to assure municipal governments sufficient funding to enable them to satisfy the obligations that have been imposed on them.
(3)Nevertheless, some argued that the full implementation of this law would decrease the fiscal independence of local government and would also directly subordinate local governments to regional and federal bodies. Under the reform coming from the new law, income from local taxes would decrease as a share of total government revenue. Thus the mayors of cities still must rely on transfers of funds from the budgets of the federal and regional governments in order to try to perform the functions that are expected of them.
(4)Another issue arose that the implementation of that legislation would entail an enormous growth in the number of local governments in the country. Under the new law the number of “municipal formations” in Russia would increase from 11,560 to 31,298. Such a tremendous increase in the number of local governments would ensure sharp growth in the number of municipal officials and a substantial expansion of the need for financial resources to support the staff, facilities, and equipment of the new local governments.
(5)The proponents of the reform hope that the actual increase in costs resulting from growth in the ranks of municipal governments will not be overwhelming if existing facilities are used in many cases and most elected officials in the smaller settlements are part-time public servants. In some locales, however, expenses are said to have risen significantly as a result of the proliferation of local government entities.
(6)Whatever disadvantages of a new reform are, it’s obvious that it’s a step forward in the whole process of the reform of local government in Russia. While in the past the mayors had complained of a lack of attention from the central government, now there is confidence that the voice of the localities is finally heard.
Ø 3) Name the paragraphs which give answers to the questions below:
a)What document accepted the distinction between state authority and local self-government?
b)What consequences of the full implementation of the law could be foreseen?
c)What major advantages of e new reform are?
Judicial Bodies of the Republic of Karelia
Ø 1) Is the text easy to understand or do you need to use a dictionary?
Ø 2) Name “the signal words” which help the author to develop the idea on how judicial authority in the Republic of Karelia is held.
Ø 3) Read the text and say whether the following topics are covered in it:
a)The system of judicial authority in the Republic of Karelia.
b)Documents which are obligatory for physical persons and legal entities.
c)The highest judicial power body of the Republic of Karelia.
d)A judicial system executing justice resolution of economic cases.
f)Membership of the Arbitration Court of the Republic of Karelia.
g)Competence within the Supreme Court of the Republic of Karelia
Judicial authority in the Republic of Karelia is held by federal courts, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Karelia, and the magistracy of the Republic of Karelia.
Judicial acts which have entered into legal force are obligatory for all bodies of the government and local self-government, public associations, officials, other physical persons and legal entities.
The Constitutional Court was formed as the highest judicial power body, which protects the Constitutional order, for the first time in the history of Karelia by the Supreme Soviet of Karelia.
The formation of such a body was foreseen by the Constitution of the Republic of Karelia and adopted on its base on the 17th of March, 1994 by the Law of Karelia “About the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Karelia”.
The Constitutional Court of Karelia began its work in November, 1994. The personnel of the Court are fixed by the Law of Karelia and amounts to 5 persons.
The Arbitration Court of the Republic of Karelia is a court in the system of arbitration courts of the RF executing justice resolution of economic cases and considering other cases within its competence according to the Arbitration code of practice of the RF and other federal laws.
Founded on November 13, 1991, the Arbitration Court of the Republic of Karelia at first instance:
· considers all the cases subordinate to courts of arbitration of the RF, except for cases within the competence of the Supreme Court of Arbitration of the RF;
· reconsiders accepted judicial acts and final judgments according to newly-discovered circumstances;
· addresses the Constitutional Court of the RF with inquiries to check the constitutionality of the law applied or being a subject application in the case considered in any instance;
· studies and generalizes judiciary practice;
· prepares offers on perfection of laws and other regulatory legal acts;
· analyzes judicial statistics.
Cases in the Arbitration Court of the Republic of Karelia are considered by a sole judge. Collegial constitution of the court considers cases on contestation of regulatory legal acts, insolvency (bankruptcy) if not stated by the federal law otherwise, and also sent to the court of arbitration at first instance for new consideration with specifying of collegial constitution of the court.
The Arbitration Court of the Republic of Karelia consisting of the judge and 2 arbitration assessors considers economic disputes and other cases arising from civil and other legal relationships if one of the parties declares its petition for consideration of the case at participation of arbitration assessors.
Not final judgments of the Arbitration Court of the Republic of Karelia are appealed in the Arbitration Court of Appeal. Final judgments are appealed in the Federal Arbitration Court of the North-west District. Final judgments can be reviewed by way of judicial supervision of judgments which have become final by the Supreme Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation.
The Arbitration Court of the Republic of Karelia has 32 judges appointed by the President of the Russian Federation. Eight judges have titles of the Honoured Lawyer of the Republic of Karelia, 4 of them are the Honoured Lawyers of the Russian Federation. The activity of the court is provided by 80 employees, of which 78 people are civil servants, 49 of them graduated from Law Faculties. Court of Arbitration of the Republic of Karelia has a Presidium, judicial board on consideration of the disputes arising from civil and other legal relationships, and judicial board for consideration of disputes arising from administrative legal relationships.
The Supreme Court of the Republic of Karelia is the supreme judicial instance in the system of courts of general jurisdiction of the Republic of Karelia. It consists of 18 federal city and regional courts, and 34 judicial districts of Justices of the Peace of the republic. Within its competence it considers cases as a court at first instance in the cassation order by way of judicial supervision of newly-discovered circumstances, supervises judicial activity of subordinate courts, studies and generalizes judicial practice. The Supreme Court of the Republic of Karelia was created on September 4, 1923 as the Main Court. In June of 1937, according to the new Constitution, the Main Court was renamed into the Supreme Court of KASSR. The court has its modern name since November 13, 1991.
Ø 4) What events do the following dates from the text refer to: September 4, 1923; June, 1937; November 13, 1991; March 17, 1994; November, 1994?
Ø 5) Where and how can you use the text information?
The Political System of the USA
Ø 1) Read the heading of the text and say whether it is connected with the previous and the following texts.
Ø 2) Read the text and say whether the following topics are covered in it:
a)Powers of President of the USA.
b)The three branches of the federal government.
c)Amendments to the Constitution of the USA.
d)Types of courts in the judicial system of the USA.
Washington, the capital of the United States is situated in the District of Columbia. The district is a piece of land which doesn’t belong to any state but to all the states. All these states are sovereign.
The executive branch is headed by the President, who proposes bills to Congress, enforces federal laws, serves as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces and with the approval of the Senate, makes treaties. President can veto a bill unless Congress by a two-thirds vote shall overrule him.
The President is chosen in nation-wide elections every 4 years together with the Vice-President. The vice President, elected from the same political party as the President, acts as chairman of the Senate, and in the event of the death of the President, assumes the Presidency.
Under the Constitution, the federal government is divided into three branches. The legislative power is vested in Congress and made up of two houses: the Senate and the House of Representative. There are 435 members in the House of Representative and 100 senators. Each state elects two members of the 100-member Senate.
Constitution has been amended 26 times. The Bill of Rights guarantees individual liberties: freedom of speech, religion and so on. Later amendments abolish slavery, grant the vote to women and allow citizens to vote at the age of 18.
The judicial branch is made up of Federal District Courts, 11 Federal Courts and the Supreme Court. Federal judges are appointed by the President for life. Federal courts decide cases involving federal law, conflicts between citizens of different states. The Supreme Court may rule the law to be unconstitutional.
Ø 3) What are the differences between the English and American political systems (refer to Text 7.19).
Ø 4) Make a brief plan of the text.
The Separation of Powers in the USA
Ø 1) Read the text and answer the question: “What is the role of the US Constitution in creating the so called “a more perfect union?”
Since the Second Continental Congress declared America’s independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776, the United States government has sought to realize the fundamental principle on which the nation was founded: that all people have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
This principle was formalized in 1788 with the ratification of the Constitution. That document – still the supreme law of the United States – became the foundation of a federal government that allowed the several states to act together as one, while protecting the sovereignty of each individual state.
To ensure that no person or group would amass too much power, the founders established a government in which the powers to create, implement, and adjudicate laws were separated. Each branch of government is balanced by powers in the other two coequal branches: the President can veto the laws of the Congress; the Congress confirms or rejects the President’s appointments and can remove the President from office in exceptional circumstances; and the justices of the Supreme Court, who can overturn unconstitutional laws, are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.
In creating this balance, the framers of the Constitution hoped to form what they called “a more perfect union” – a government that would not only serve the people but would also be a long-lived exemplar to other nations around the world.
Ø 2) Name the statements which are true:
a)America’s independence from Great Britain on July 14, 1776.
b)The supreme law of the United States is the Constitution.
c)The Constitution of the USA protects the sovereignty of each individual state.
d)The powers of the US government to create, implement, and adjudicate laws were not separated.
e)The President of the USA cannot veto the laws of the Congress.
f)The justices of the US Supreme Court are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.
g)“A more perfect union” – this expression means a more perfect country.
Ø 3) Compare the Constitution of the USA and the Constitution of the Russian Federation. Is there anything in common between the two Constitutions?
The President of the USA
Ø 1) Read the text and answer the question: “Can you be the President of the USA?”
Do you want to be the President of the United States of America? Maybe you can apply for a job. Answer these three questions. Are you a U.S. citizen? Are you thirty five years old or older? Have you been a resident of the United States for fourteen years or longer? Did you say “yes” to all three questions? Then you can take the first steps to the White House.
You become President for a term. A term is four years. You can only serve two terms. This means that you can only be President twice. This became law in 1951. Before that, the law was different. In fact, Franklin D. Roosevelt became president in 1933. He was still President when he died in 1945. He was President for twelve years. No one was President longer than he was.
As President of the United States, you earn $200,000 a year. You also get extra $50,000 for expenses, tax free. You have your own limousine, jet, and housekeepers, all free. You also live rent free, in the White house, D.C. And you are Head of the richest country in the world.
Presidents of the United States are very different people. Twenty two were lawyers, four soldiers, four farmers, four teachers, two writers, two businessmen, one tailor, and one actor. Eight of them didn’t have a college education!
Ø 2) Answer the questions concerning the current President of the USA:
a)What is his name?
b)Is he a U.S. citizen?
c)How old was he when he became the President of the USA?
d)When does his term expire?
e)What education does he have?
Half a Million Lawyers in the USA
Ø 1) What does the title of the text imply?
“It was you, wasn’t it?” says the district attorney, pointing to the woman on the other side of the courtroom. “It was you who murdered your husband.”
“Yes!” says the woman, hiding her face in her hands. “Oh God, yes, it was me!”
“OK. Cut!” shouts the movie director. “One minute break, everyone.” He is pleased. He knows that his TV series will be a success. The great interest that Americans have in the law and the courts will make sure of that.
It is extraordinary, in fact, how important the law is in America’s national life. Indeed, the justices of the Supreme Court are some of the most powerful people in America. It is often they, rather than the politicians, who make the big decisions that will change people’s daily lives. It is the justices who decide that black children and white children should go to school together. It is they who decide whether criminals should be punished by death. Politicians, after all, can lose an election if they make unpopular decisions. Justices keep their job for life.
The nine justices of the Supreme Court are probably the most respected people in the U.S.A., but Americans do not think so highly of the less important lawyers. Perhaps this is because there are so many of them. One in every 450 Americans is a lawyer, and in Washington, D.C., the number is one in every sixty-four.
One reason for the large number of lawyers is that each state has different laws. In Alabama, for example, the school age is from seven to sixteen years old. In Pennsylvania, it is eight to seventeen. In addition to the different state laws, there are also federal laws, which everyone must obey.
Americans hurry to the courts of law to fight for their rights for all kinds of reasons. This can be a good thing. No employer can afford to be careless about safety. The workers might take him to court. No doctor can be careless with her patient. She will find herself in court, ordered to pay millions of dollars for her mistake.
Some people feel that things have gone too far. Take Mr. and Mrs. Zak, for example. One evening they offered scotch to a guest who then drove off in his car and crashed. The court decided that the Zaks had been wrong togive their guest scotch and allow him to drive away drunk. They were ordered to pay $72,500. It must have been the most expensive bottle of scotch the Zaks ever bought.
Ø 2) Find the definition of the word “attorney” in the dictionary.
Ø 3) Prove that it is often the justices, rather than the politicians, “who make the big decisions that will change people’s daily lives” in the USA.
Ø 1) Answer the questions:
a)Would you like to be a lawyer? Would you like to be a judge?
b)Have you ever been in court? What did you do there?
c)Have you ever been a member of a jury? Was it difficult?
Jerry Owens is a member of a jury. Now he is hearing a case that involves robbery and theft.
The accused man, the defendant, has a past criminal record and has served a term in prison. He is accused of holding up a bank as well as stealing jewelry from five homes in the area. The trial has lasted five days, but today seems to be the day to give a verdict of guilty or no guilty.
Jerry thinks that the evidence against the defendant is not very strong. He plans to vote “not guilty.”
Ø 2) Answer the questions:
a)Who is Jerry Owens?
b)Who has a past criminal record?
c)Why is today important?
d)What is the defendant accused of?
e)How does Jerry Owens plan to vote?
Trial by jury
Ø 1) What title might be good for this selection?
Ø 2) Could you comment on the phrase “Trial by jury may not be a perfect system of administering criminal justice”?
Trial by jury may not be a perfect system of administering criminal justice, but it is a great improvement over some earlier methods. In old England, under Saxon rule, cruel and barbaric methods were used to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused. These procedures were known as “ordeal by fire” and “ordeal by water.” Fire was customarily used for nobility. Ordinary people were tried by water.
In one variety of “ordeal by fire,” the accused was forced to take three steps while grasping a red hot piece of iron in his or her bare hands. The hands were then bandaged and the defendant was judged on the degree of healing that took place in three days. A variation on this technique involved walking barefoot and blindfolded on irregularly spaced red-hot irons. God supposedly guided the feet of the innocent.
For “ordeal by water” the accused was bound with ropes and tossed into a deep body of water. Those who floated were guilty. A person who sank was presumed innocent and, hopefully, pulled from the water before drowning. This quaint practice was based on the notion that the water would reject the guilty and accept the innocent.
Our judicial system may have flaws, but it’s certainly preferable to the Saxon system!
Ø 3) Answer the questions:
a)What is “ordeal by fire”?
b)Who were the Saxons?
c)What layer of the population was fire used for?
d)What does the word “barbaric” mean?
e)What does the word “flaws” mean?
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