An independent prosecutor is being harassed in the first disciplinary case resulting from the Thousand Robes March
A disciplinary officer for line prosecutors has initiated disciplinary proceedings against Katarzyna Gembalczyk, one of the leaders of the Lex Super Omnia prosecutors’ association, with a critical stance towards Minister of Justice and Prosecutor General Zbigniew Ziobro. The disciplinary officer is demanding an explanation for why she was dressed in her robe during the Thousand Robes March. “I was performing my duty to defend the rule of law.”
“Wearing the prosecutor’s robe during the March was a part of the performance of my duty to defend the rule of law, which flows from the oath I took as a prosecutor. I consider protesting against misguided legislation which aims explicitly at violating the constitutional principle of the tripartite separation of powers as the exercise of my civil rights, which, as a prosecutor, I am not deprived of,” said Katarzyna Gembalczyk, member of the board of Lex Super Omnia and a line prosecutor of the District Prosecutor’s Office in Warsaw.
The deputy disciplinary officer for the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Warsaw, Małgorzata Ziółkowska – Siwczyk, presented her with a letter dated 21 January in which she demanded an explanation from Gembalczyk for her actions.
In the letter, the disciplinary officer writes that she has initiated preliminary investigative proceedings to determine the circumstances “necessary for ascertaining the potential for a disciplinary violation.”
Gembalczyk the first to be prosecuted for a robe at the March. Will she be the last?
The disciplinary officer and loyalist of Prosecutor General Zbigniew Ziobro feels that “the use [by prosecutor Gembalczyk] of the official robe of a public prosecutor on 11 January 2020 during a public assembly, contrary to the purpose assigned to it by law” constitutes a disciplinary offence.”
The disciplinary officer refers to the provisions of a 2016 regulation by the Minister of Justice that determines the official uniform to be worn by prosecutors participating in judicial proceedings. The regulation is very brief and says only that the uniform for a prosecutor taking part in a judicial proceeding is a robe. On this basis, the disciplinary officer has concluded that a robe may only be worn in the courtroom.
Katarzyna Gembalczyk has been given until the end of January to submit an explanation, but is under no obligation to do so.
At present, no disciplinary proceedings have yet been initiated against her. While she may not be charged with a violation, it cannot excluded that this will happen.
Gembalczyk is the first lawyer in Poland to be persecuted for wearing a robe during the Thousand Robe March. Prosecutor Damian Gałek of the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Nowa Sól, also a member of Lex Super Omnia, was earlier summoned by the head of the District Prosecutor’s Office in Zielona Góra to explain whether he had taken his robe with him to the March, and for what purpose, but Gałek refused to respond.
According to estimates by Lex Super Omnia, in addition to judges (including from abroad), advocates, and legal advisors, around 120 defiant prosecutors attended the Thousand Robe March. Some of them were in robes, including Mariusz Krasoń of Kraków, who is presently being subjected to harassment in his workplace.
Krasoń was at the front of the March together with judges Krystian Markiewicz, the head of Iustitia, and Waldemar Żurek, former spokesman of the former, legal National Council of the Judiciary.