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article imageRussian judge forced to resign after falling asleep in court

By Arthur Weinreb     Feb 3, 2013 in Crime
Blagoveshchensk - The defendant was not amused. Not only was he sentenced to five years in jail but the judge had to wake up from a nap to give it to him. Luckily, it's the 21st century. The snooze was filmed and went viral. Judicial authorities were not amused either.
On Friday, a disciplinary panel of Russian judges decided to accept the resignation of Judge Yevgeny Makhno. The resignation was tendered earlier in the week after the film of his purported sleeping during a trial was uploaded to YouTube and received thousands of views. The judge resigned even though he first claimed he was not sleeping; he was listening to the proceedings with his eyes closed.
The trial took place during the summer of 2012 in Blagoveshchensk City Court in Russia's far east. Andrey Nalyotov appeared before Judge Makhno and was being tried for fraud. The jurist slept or at least appeared to be sleeping during arguments made by Nalyotov's lawyer. Nalyotov's family members who were in court were outraged. One of them took out a cell phone and filmed the judge appearing to be in a deep sleep. The video was uploaded last month and the BBC reports one of the clips was viewed more than 75,000 times in a few days.
At some point in the proceedings, Makhno woke up, convicted Nalyotov and sentenced him to five years to be served in a penal colony.
The Daily Mail reports Makhno himself could face criminal charges. It is an offence under the Russian Criminal Code for a judicial officer to knowingly give an unlawful judgment, decision or other judicial act.
Nalyotov appealed his conviction and sentence on the grounds the judge slept through some of his trial. According to the Toronto Sun, the currently convicted fraudster will have a new trial on Feb. 14.
The Russian judicial system has come under attack lately involving some high profile cases, most notably that of two members of the punk band Pussy Riot. The two women were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after staging an anti-Putin protest. They were both sent to labour camps.
If Makhno takes some exams, he could be back sitting on the bench.
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