Author (Your Name)

Richard Casson, Colby College

Date of Award


Document Type

Senior Scholars Paper (Open Access)


Colby College. History Dept.




An analysis of the judicial system which existed during the reign of Nicholas I (1825-1855) serves as an example of the detestable condition of the legal and court system for several centuries prior to the 1864 Reform. The structure of the courts was complex and confusing; there were an overabundance of tribunals with ill-defined jurisdiction. The procedure was lengthy, expensive, and inquisitorial by nature. The personnel, both judges and clerks, were ignorant and corrupt. The few attorneys that existed were as inadequately trained and as prone to bribery as the personnel in the courts. There was also a mass of conflicting, arbitrary laws. This judicial system reflected the structure and condition of the state as a whole. The government was autocratic and was operated by a complicated and somewhat corrupt bureaucratic machine. The laws were therefore arbitrary and the courts disorderly and venal.


Courts -- Russia -- History, 1801-1917, Russia -- History, 1801-1917, Justice, Administration of -- Russia -- History, 1801-1917