The European Commission has initiated the second stage of proceedings concerning the new disciplinary system for judges in Poland. On the same day, the Commission announced a new packet of measures for the rule of law. The Commission wants to prevent and respond more effectively to infringements of Treaty values in Member States and plans to support NGOs in promoting a rule of law culture. The Polish government is taking a dim view of most of the proposed solutions.
The forced transfer of acclaimed prosecutor Mariusz Krasoń from the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Cracow to a lower-ranked office in Wroclaw has generated controversy among prosecutors and other legal professionals in Poland. The decision was issued after the prosecutor Krasoń participated in the drafting of a document highlighting defects in the current system earlier this year. A number of organizations and individuals, including the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights, have expressed their support for prosecutor Krasoń and criticized the decision of the National Prosecutor, Bogdan Święczkowski.
The Minister of Justice feels that the opinion of the Advocate General of the EU Court of Justice Evgeni Tanchev is incompatible with EU law and constitutes a “defence of pathology in the Polish judiciary.” If the CJEU concurs with the Advocate General’s opinion, following the judgment Poland will have to select a new National Council of the Judiciary. Changes will also be necessary in other EU Member States.
Yet another judge has been transferred from his post by force. Łukasz Biliński, justice of the District Court in Warsaw, known for acquitting protesters who were involved in blocking nationalist demonstrations, has been removed from ruling on criminal cases and transferred to the family division of the court against his will.
Controversy is growing around the forced transfer of judge and former National Council of Judiciary spokesperson, Waldemar Żurek, from the second instance district court in Cracow to a court of the first instance.
According to the Court of Justice’s Advocate General, Poland failed to guarantee effective legal protection by lowering the retirement age of Supreme Court judges and granting the President the discretion to prolong their mandate. The AG opinion is not binding on the ECJ, but the bench usually follows its conclusions.