1. Do people trust the courts?
According to a survey conducted by USAID in the fall of 2018, 20% of Ukrainian citizens tend to trust courts.
2. Is this figure high or low?
Let’s compare this data with previous years. In 2015, only 5% of Ukrainian citizens trusted the judiciary. This was a critically low figure.
Despite all difficulties, the level of trust of Ukrainian citizens in courts and the judiciary has already grown almost fourfold.
3. Who usually gets surveyed, and why is it important?
91% of those surveyed are regular citizens who have never been involved in legal proceedings. Their perception of how courts work is shaped by television, mass media, and rumors.
So it is that perception that they are passing on when answering survey questions. This is what lawyers would call “hearsay.” It is an important reflection of people’s views, but hardly a competent assessment of the real state of affairs.
4. What’s the view of those who actually had to deal with courts?
The level of trust among those who have had actual experience of legal proceedings in the past two years is almost twice as high as among the general population—34%.
And the same percentage of Ukrainians thinks that implementing the judicial reform will improve the situation in the country as a whole. The trust levels among legal professionals are even higher.
5. What do people want of the judiciary?
It is telling that the most widespread expectations among regular citizens almost completely overlap with the changes set out by the judicial reform. Among them: realization of the right to a fair legal proceeding; an honest qualification review of judges; a transparent, public, and competitive process of judges selection; speeding up of court proceedings; eliminating the possibility of judges passing down unlawful and politically-motivated rulings.
6. Why should one be more questioning toward survey results?
Sociological surveys are dry figures that serve as an objective tool of measuring public opinion on the matters most important to a society. However, not everyone would find time and perseverance to study lengthy tables and draw independent conclusions.
This is the job of journalists who are supposed to explain to their audience what certain poll results actually mean. They do that by far not always in a professional and impartial manner. This is the source of misleading, purely manipulative judgments like, “The judicial reform is a failure because the Ukrainian people do not trust courts.”