A war is being waged in the Kraków court. The judges are to examine their own independence

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The Kraków judges have an uphill struggle. A special department has been formed. According to the president of the Regional Court – not against them. They, however, are of a different opinion.



A few days ago, Dagmara Pawełczyk-Woicka, president of the Kraków Regional Court, issued an order, according to which the status of judges recommended by the new National Council of the Judiciary will only be determined by people in the same situation, also nominated by the new Council, and associated in a special so-called section.

 

‘This is the creation of a deliberate and intentional influence on the rulings of judges. This can be assessed in terms of a crime of overstepping authority,’ says Judge Waldemar Żurek of the Kraków Regional Court.

 

A special, so-called section was established in the first Civil Division of the Kraków Regional Court at the beginning of February. It is to be the only body which will be able to assess, for instance, motions of parties regarding the removal of a given judge from a bench.

 

The Deputy Disciplinary Commissioner for the Judges of the Ordinary Courts, Przemysław W. Radzik, recently initiated proceedings against judges of the Regional Court in Kraków.

 

The eight specified judges that ended up in this so-called section are exclusively people recommended by the new NCJ and seconded from the districts to the regional court by way of a decision of the minister of justice.

 

‘This is inadmissible interference in the adjudication of judges. The point is that legally appointed judges would be unable to assess the status of people recruited or promoted by the new NCJ,’ says Judge Waldemar Żurek.

 

In the order issued on 8 February, the president of the Regional Court in Kraków, Dagmara Pawełczyk-Woicka, named the people who will be the only ones to be able to make decisions on matters regarding the assessment of the status of judges recommended by the new, politically appointed National Council of the Judiciary.

 

We asked the president of the Regional Court in Kraków for her opinion.

 

In an interview with Rzeczpospolita, Dagmara Pawełczyk-Woicka, president of the Regional Court in Kraków, claims that there is no special section, but that specialisations have been established in certain cases. And she explains what this looks like.

 

Firstly, this is about standardising the practice of the division in matters encompassed by horizontal complaints, especially the practice of refusing to waive court fees, awarding fees to court experts and the award of security.

 

Secondly, the objective is to improve the efficiency of the proceedings in matters encompassed by the above issues, because significant discrepancies have been found in the efficiency of the proceedings involving the examination of complaints.

 

And thirdly – to eliminate the judges who publicly declared their refusal to respect certain judicial appointments (Waldemar Żurek, Edyta Barańska, Maciej Ferek, who has been suspended).

 

According to the court’s president, the court’s jurisdiction includes adjudicating on cases, whereas, instead of concentrating on adjudicating in cases, these judges decided to examine the nomination procedures ex officio and investigate the decisions of the President of the Republic of Poland, which constitutes a breach of the Constitution.

 

Translated by Roman Wojtasz

 

The article was published in Polish in Rzeczpospolita newspaper, February 16, 2022.

 



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February 21, 2022

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