Do servants of Themis need psychological services?

Vitaly Barsky
Chief of special verification of judicial
candidates and inspection of judges
division of the department for
appointments, election and dismissal of
judges of the Secretariat of the High
Qualification Commission of Judges

Christina Yaroslavivna Saiko
Graduate student of the Institute of
Correctional Pedagogy and Psychology
of the National Pedagogical
Dragomanov University

Do servants of Themis need psychological services?

Continuing, the beginning is in the № 1, 2 for 2013)

I'm glad to welcome our readers with good news, since our previous publications the Themis interest to psychology has been increased; psychology is the science about the soul, it studies the features of humans thinking, consciousness and human behavior, explains mental phenomena.

So, the National School of Judges of Ukraine and G.S. Kostiuk Institute of Psychology of the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of Ukraine in January of this year signed a cooperation agreement, in regards to scientific researches and certain developments¸ including:

- methods of psychological diagnostics of judicial candidates,

- training courses on the psychology of judicial activities

- psychological programs for judges trainings.

In March and April of 2014, the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine together with the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv conducted psychological research based on methods of self-actualization testing, developed by E. Shostroma (SAT), the questionnaire for temperament structure by V.M. Rusalova, Schwartz questionnaire for definition of value orientations, as well as surveys for judges and judicial candidates appointed for the first time .

According to the survey results, gained from lawyers having working experience from 1 to 30 years, from Lviv, Odessa, Lugansk and other cities, we have some interesting conclusions.

Thus, surveys showed that Ukrainian judges are more sociable than judicial candidates and more actively aspire to leadership. Judges have a higher level of safety values, authority, integrity of the world and self esteem.

Secondly follows priorities in achievement, emotionality, behavior flexibility and self esteem. With greater respect to traditions, restrained in showing feelings and emotions in their behavior.

Responding to the survey question "What necessary personal and moral qualities are in priority for you?"; On the first place in regards to importance judges put fairness and honesty, on the second, consistency, analytical and critical thinking, on the third, organizational skills, such as the ability to plan working time and manage working activities of assistant and secretary.

As for the judicial candidates appointed for the first time, as it was showed by summarized results of the survey, they are more active than judges, have more pronounced need for social contact and development of social forms of activity, more actively seeking to acquire new professional knowledge.

The judicial candidates are more emotional in communication, as opposed to acting judges they are more sensitive to failure.

By priority the judicial candidates put on the first place such personal qualities as willingness to reach the goal, resoluteness and efficiency; on the second - kindness and commitment for professional growth, and only on the third - independence.

From the comments section

Here are the most interesting expressions of our readers regarding the question "Do servants of Themis need psychological services?"

The interest of judicial candidates in technical capabilities of psychology has increased significantly since the beginning of discussions regarding the lustration of judges in March – May, 2014. The number of those who absolutely supports the establishment of comprehensive testing and participation of psychologist in the process of selection for future servants of Themis is growing.

More than a year ago, in comments on the page of Information Agency "UNIAN" after harsh criticism and special inspection, according to one of the Crimean judicial candidate, it was stated: "I do not mind if the Commission will study moral characteristics, but this procedure should be performed in accordance to certain rules. In the European countries, in particular, there have been developed special tests for such purposes."

And here is the attitude of judges to the problem.

On the question formulated in the title of the article "Do servants of Themis need psychological services? The judge M. Guliyeva from Lviv immediately answered "Yes! Moreover, a psychologist is needed both, as at the stage of judicial candidate testing, as well as during acting on the position of a judge. If the candidate is rejected in recommendations, it should be provided with an explanation of the reason for such a refusal (lack of qualification and professional level, low moral and ethical qualities, improper behavior)".

"The idea of judge evaluation by the acting Head of the court (from the German experience in article headings Bulletin number 2, 2013 - author's note) I consider, at least for now, is not quite transparent and objective, on the one hand, this may lead to a breach of the principle of judges independence, on the other hand it will be rather subjective assessment of an employee by its subordinate supervisor. In addition, given the characteristics for the institute of justice and communication between judges in regard to law application, there are different opinions exist concerning dispute resolution and each judge defends its position and results of such an assessment may be distorted "(V. Matveeva, Lugansk).

"It is quite useful to highlight problematic issues in the teamwork of judges and court staff, where obstacles to success are overconfidence, conflictedness, and rejection of colleagues opinion. The reasons of that could be pride, inability to think logically and to evaluate critically own mistakes "(V. Janchuk, Korostishiv city, Zhytomyrskaya obl.).

"In order to eliminate the negative effects of such behavior, it is necessary to introduce the verification of psychological disability of candidates at the stage of candidate’s selection procedure, but to develop (emphasis added) of effective mechanism for such selection. It should be noted, that for today there are factually no legal backgrounds for correction of inappropriate behavior of judges» (v. Degtyareva, c. Kirovograd).

Analyzing the survey results, we could not notice that judges with longer professional experience put some interesting questions, such as:

"Why consistently, since the Soviet era, the Ukrainian judges are not being provided on the State level with necessary professional trainings on psychology? Why judges are not being trained on issues of psychology of conflict, reconciliation of conflicting parties and conducted of such appropriate trainings? How to resist a psychological pressure, a professional burnout, how to maintain a high work efficiency under stressful conditions?" (V. Simonenko, Kyiv).

It is known that in the European countries they educated and trained on these issues, instead, we solve these problems alone, everyone in its own manner, some sacrifice own precious health, demonstrating the "labor heroism", and someone struggles with stress, using, so-called folk remedies.

We continue to familiarize with foreign best practices.


Achievements of Belarus based on the experience of United States and Europe

Diagnostics of professional orientation addressing the improvement of judges staff was studied in Belarus Republic based on the example of commercial courts by V.S. Kamenkov (based on conference materials «Preparing qualified scientists in terms of innovative economical development. Regional, inter-regional and international aspects» published by I.V. Voytov. Minsk, 2007).

The author took into account more than sixty years of experience in the staged multi-level testing of graduates wishing to study at prestigious universities in the United States and Europe. As far as any further horizontal or vertical career movements of these graduates on responsible and influential positions are also accompanied by tests, in developed countries, for today is working the system of personnel selection for the State apparatus with the required set of skills.

In the United States graduates from college pass legal professional exam for 4 days, 8 hours per day. Moreover, in certain states (eg, California) everyone is allowed to pass the exam, even those who did not study in college, but obtained knowledge of law on his own. The list of those who have passed the exam, are published in newspapers. Cheating during the exam is considered as a criminal offense! An interesting fact, in practice the most part of knowledge that is required in order to complete this exam, the vast majority of American lawyers won't ever use, because they deal mostly in a narrow specializations.

Of course, this exam verifies not only knowledge of an individual, but also the ability to work with information overload and demonstrate this knowledge in stressful situations. In this manner the American society protects themselves from pervasion to the practical jurisprudence of incompetent, incapacitated and stressful people.

Psychologists, who conducted researches in courts of Belarus, found that the significant improvements in the quality of refereeing are achieved through selection of candidates, which physiological potential is sufficient to ensure optimal and effective implementation of full range of activities.

High individual psychological characteristics are very important factor that affects the rate of professional information assimilation, combinatorial skills, ability to logically analyze and process a large amount of documents.

Statistics proves that basal characteristics of properties of a nervous system, as well as functional asymmetry of the brain, identified through the specially designed tests will reliably predict professional and social activities of a court staff.

The main condition for their implementation is development and further use of adapted tests for professional abilities and complexes of various tests, that exclude or detect attempts of the studied to distort test results.

The main idea of the diagnostic approach is probabilistic definition for mutual match of applicant`s field of ability matrix with normative indicators. This technique involves, firstly, separated evaluation of a matching degree for necessary and undesirable groups of professional abilities. Secondly, due to the impossibility for direct measurement of actual levels of certain psychological characteristics, an objective assessment of individual psycho—physiological makings of the availability and further development of indentified qualities is being conducted.

The summary of criteria matrix and the set of correlation links between individual characteristics of a person and its inner needs are completely determined by the content of activity and its social specification.

So, it is saying regarding the professionally oriented matrix of criteria. The degree of professional generality may vary from matrixes for groups with some typical professions to matrixes for certain narrow specialties.

The more matrix criteria is averaged, the more productivity of express-studies it provides due less definition of professional abilities and inner needs. This consideration was taken into account during development of the matrix of criteria for predictive testing of judicial candidates.

The procedure of the matrix development to establish correlated professionally important connections includes:

- identifying the key (for successful achievement of goal) problem tasks of yje certain professional activity;

- determining the content of activities for each of them;

- determining operating conditions (including specific) in solving each of the problem task;

- determine the list of conducive abilities for successful solving of each problem task;

- determine the list of professional abilities that prevent or make impossible the successful solution of each problem task.

For psycho-diagnostic examination of the system of economic courts personnel of Belarus the special complex from 22 tests that provides solution for interconnected problems has been created:

- selection of candidates, that most suitable to perform work in commercial courts according to individual psychological abilities;

- identifying and dropping out candidates, which due to their intellectual and mental abilities and other characteristics could be mostly professionally non adapted and meet requirements for judges.

According to the above tasks the comprehensive psycho-diagnostics is:

- evaluating the general intellectual level of a candidate, the structure of its individual psychological abilities, features of nervous and psychological organization, possibility to adapt for stressful conditions;

- sufficient safe, has as diagnostic, as well as prognostic validity, what makes possible not only to evaluate the current condition of an individual, but also to predict his future activities;

- compact, convenient for group examination in limited time using the automated processing of the results.

To automate the procedure for the selection and evaluation of the suitability of judges and court’s staff there has been the diagnostic hardware and software system developed that enables high-speed and reliable assessment of the following key physiological characteristics: work performance, stress resistance, speed of mental operations, mobility, responsiveness to changing external conditions, emotional stability.

The basic cognitive characteristics such as: volume, stability, ability to switch and distribute attention; memory for linguistic, numerical and image information; logical operations analysis, synthesis of speech material, systematic thinking, intellectual work performance.

The developed psychological tools also allow identifying the social and psychological abilities of an individual that are important for effective judicial activity.

Among the positive qualities there are goal orientation, social adaptability, communication, perseverance, diligence, adequate self-esteem, individually important career values. The level of behavioral self-regulation as the ability to take adequate decisions in uncertain situations is being evaluated.

Among the negative qualities there are different acts of aggression, bad habits, leading to deformation of a personality, as well as anxiety, dependence on negative external influences and so on.

It is important to realize that early detection of psycho-physiological basis of professional abilities and inclinations of judges is the basis for improving the effectiveness of their work. Psychological advice regarding organization of working process will sufficiently reduce probability of breach or lost health by a participant in court trials, primarily by the judges, who are trained for more than ten years.


A psychological experiment in Moscow regional court

A popular Russian newspaper "Izvestia" at the end of 2012, received a restricted access document of Moscow regional court regarding the results of experimental psychological examination of legal candidates. This testing was conducted on voluntarily basis. The following legal candidates for the posts of federal judges, court heads and deputy head.

During the survey the following individual psychological characteristics were recorded: the strongest qualities of character, the peculiarities of thinking, intellectual level, communication skills, strong and weak sides of a judicial candidate as a future judge.

This document is confidential, but its copy is provided to the Judicial Qualification Committee and attached to the personal file of the candidate.

The details of that test as Tatyana Moskalkova has told, the Major-General of the Ministry of Interior of the Russian Federation. "The main task of the psychological examination is drawing a portrait of each candidate: fairness, scale of values, general vision of the edge between good and evil. In addition, it is important that a judge has not been subjected to external influence. For example, whether a judge will act under instructions of a Head of a Court to consider whom to sentence and whom to justify"- she explained.

According to T. Moskalkova in the professional judicial environment the introduction of mandatory inspections for the judicial candidates using the polygraph is being discussed. It is possible that in future in accordance with results of the experiment in the Moscow regional court; the legislation of the Russian Federation on judicial system may be amended. Ms. T. Moskalkova also notes that psycho-physiological examination is already conducted during the selection of candidates for the police. This procedure is enshrined in the law "On the Bodies of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation."

So, anyone who wants to defend the law in the Russian Federation, should prove own adequacy in psychological view, through successful passing of special tests. If the candidate is not quite sure he/she could convince the examination board in his high moral principles, can ask for help in WWW where easily could be found ads concerning samples of psychological tests, and, of course, answers to them. The cost of this service is 4200 rubles (including delivery services).

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We invite you to take part in survey

This year the research concerning "Socio-psychological factors of attitude towards corruption of judicial candidates for the first time is planned." This theme is initiated by the team of experts and scholars, including the authors of this material.

In frameworks of this research the survey is expected to be conducted. Persons, interested in the survey, please register at: barskiyvl@vkksu.gov.ua Participants will be invited to speak on how to organize fight against corruption in the judicial system, in particular, and in the Ukrainian society in general.

The summarized results will be published in one of the next editions of the "Bulletin", and is supposed to be considered during the preparation of cooperation programs with the USAID project «Fair trial."