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ABA: In Poland, Erosion of Judicial Independence Continues

The American Bar Association (ABA), one of the world’s largest voluntary professional organizations with over 400,000 members, is monitoring the independence of the judiciary in Poland. On July 8-9, 2019, the ABA President Bob Carlson visited Warsaw to meet with lawyers, judges and prosecutors as well as civil society to engage in discussion on the rule of law in Poland and threats to judicial independence.

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Attacks on CJEU Advocate General after his crushing assessment of PiS-led judicial “reforms”

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.

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PiS amendments to the Act on the Supreme Court in breach of EU law. “A symbolic, historical judgement”

“The Law on the Supreme Court was contrary to EU law”, ruled the Court of Justice on 24 June. According to the CJEU, the rules shorting judges’ term of office infringed the principle of their irremovability and judicial independence. The Court is in doubt about the real objectives of the PiS-led judiciary reform. More judgments will be issued shortly.

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Harassing the judiciary by transferring judges

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.

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Disciplinary regime under ECJ review: a dispute over admissibility

On Tuesday, 18 June 2019, the European Court of Justice considered two preliminary requests submitted by courts in Łódź and Warsaw. Both courts are concerned whether the new system of disciplinary proceedings against judges meets EU standards, particularly those enshrined in the principle of effective judicial protection. However, the hearing was mainly focused not on particular provisions of law questioned by the Polish courts, but on the admissibility of the questions these courts referred to the ECJ.

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New retirement rules for Polish judges contravene EU law – according to Advocate General

In a long-awaited opinion addressing an element of the so-called reform of the judiciary in Poland, the Court of Justice Advocate General Tanchev states that “by lowering the age of retirement of judges of the common law courts, and by vesting the Minister of Justice with the discretion to extend the active period of such judges, Poland has breached its obligations under EU law”.

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Commission v Poland – has the revolution already happened?

The CJEU will soon announce its ruling in a controversial case brought by the Commission against Poland. Barbara Grabowska-Moroz provides background and analysis of the impact of the proceedings and the Court of Justice’s potential ruling on efforts to stop the backslide of the rule of law in Poland and around Europe.

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Supreme Court queries ECJ about new appointee

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.

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Prosecutor disciplined for participation in demonstration in defence of Supreme Court wins with National Prosecutor’s Office

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.

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Prosecutors hauled in for questioning by disciplinary officer

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”.

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