More than 40 judges are being targeted by people loyal to Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro for their rulings, defence of judicial independence, meetings with citizens, criticism of “good change”, or implementation of CJEU judgments. 2019 was a difficult year for judges, in which Law and Justice (PiS) sought to break their resistance through repressions. What follows is a list of the persecuted judges.
Disciplinary officer Przemysław Radzik has brought disciplinary charges for violating the dignity of the office of judge and accused two justices of abuse of power for implementing a CJEU verdict. This is punishment for their courage in querying the legality of the new National Council of the Judiciary (NCJ) and of the judges promoted by it. Radzik is also seeking to suspend both judges.
A bill appeared on the Sejm’s website during the night of 12–13 December, prohibiting judges from doing anything that is not in line with the Law and Justice party’s (PiS’) thoughts. It introduces the whims of Ziobro’s ministry and Przyłębska’s Constitutional Tribunal – instead of the Constitution and European law. Fear of PiS – instead of judicial dignity. This is how Poland is to be if this bill is enacted
Judge Paweł Juszczyszyn, an advocate of judicial independence, is being targeted by appointees of Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro for implementing a CJEU ruling that the PiS-led government disagrees with. Judges and ordinary citizens around Poland have come out to protest in his defence.
Disciplinary officer Michał Lasota is prosecuting three judges from Gdańsk for a verdict they issued. This is yet another disciplinary case initiated against judges for performing their judicial duties. Disciplinary proceedings for verdicts not only serve to intimidate judges, but also violate their independence.
The head of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) has stated that the ruling party will complete its “reform” of the justice system, overcoming what he calls “the last barrier”. Kaczyński invokes the Polish constitution, which provides mechanisms for the reorganization of the courts. In practice, this will mean a vetting of all judges in the country and the removal of those who fail to toe the line.
Krzysztof Parchimowicz, head of the Lex Super Omnia association of prosecutors, is the target of over a dozen different disciplinary proceedings. This is being done to exert a chilling effect on prosecutors who are critical of changes in the justice system that are being rammed through by the governing majority in Poland.
Judge Anna Bator-Ciesielska was the first justice in Poland to adjudicate with a judge whose name arose in conjunction with a smear campaign against independent judges. Bator-Ciesielska is already being prosecuted by the disciplinary spokesman, but in an interview with Mariusz Jałoszewski of OKO.press she says that judges must have a conscience, and that she is not afraid because judges cannot be afraid.
Prosecutor Piotr Wójtowicz from Legnica will not be formally disciplined for his appearance at a protest in defence of the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, the disciplinary court for prosecutors rejected the appeal of National Prosecutor Bogdan Święczkowski, who was seeking to punish Wójtowicz.
Prosecutors from Kraków are being summoned for questioning by the disciplinary officer to explain their participation in the Congress of Regional Public Prosecutors held on 15 May. At the meeting, a resolution was passed in which the prosecutors emphasized their independence and mentioned pressure “from above”.