They are allowed more. How judges of the Constitutional Tribunal ridicule the rules on being apolitical and the dignity of the office
A motion has been filed with the Constitutional Tribunal to punish retired Judge Wojciech Hermeliński for allegedly breaching the principles of judicial ethics. We look at statements made by the current judges of the Constitutional Tribunal in terms of their ‘apolitical nature’ and ‘good practices’
A statement made by the acting Constitutional Tribunal judge, Jarosław Wyrembak, appeared on the Constitutional Tribunal’s website. In it, he accuses opposition politicians and commentators of attempting to take over authority by force and crack down on people holding official positions. According to Wyrembak, a queue is already forming of wannabes who ‘cannot wait for the functions and positions that could most quickly now be obtained by immediately breaking off, zeroing out and forcibly removing those who currently hold these functions and these positions; especially the judges of the Constitutional Tribunal’.
He must know something about this, since he, himself as a stand-in judge, took a place in the Constitutional Tribunal of a judge appointed there by the Sejm.
Mr. Wyrembak calls the people protesting against the Constitutional Tribunal’s verdict on abortion ‘abortion lovers’. He predicted that there would be a new ‘rule of law’, this time ‘exercised with the help of a hammer and sickle’ by ‘warriors wearing European ties’. ‘The spectre is looming,’ Wyrembak concludes dramatically, and in his final sentences, he presents visions of martyrdom of people holding public office – torn away, with their hands tied and their mouths sealed.
Retired Constitutional Tribunal Judge Wojciech Hermeliński commented on Jarosław Wyrembak’s words. ‘The text testifies to Mr. Wyrembak’s exceptional level of emotion. I am deliberately not calling him a judge, because he was elected to a position that was already occupied. Perhaps this is creating a complex appears in this document? However, it’s surprising because, after all, Mr. Wyrembak considers himself to be a judge, while such statements do not befit a judge,’ the judge told ‘Rzeczpospolita’ daily.
In accordance with the regulations that are applicable to the judges of the Constitutional Tribunal (more on these in a moment), disciplinary proceedings should be initiated against Jarosław Wyrembak. So far, the appropriate authorities have not heard anything about such an initiative.
Instead, Wyrembak himself has requested disciplinary action against Hermeliński. In the motion, he accuses him of breaching the principles of ethics. ‘In groundlessly attributing all these rights to himself, Wojciech Hermeliński is using the mass media to publicly formulate unreasonable and very far-reaching statements, instructions and assessments about another judge of the Constitutional Tribunal, including his status and even his personal characteristics’ – justifies Wyrembak’s motion.
There is a secret Code
Constitutional Tribunal judges are bound by the provisions of the Act on the Status of Constitutional Tribunal Judges and the Code of Ethics of Constitutiounal Tribunal judges. Its history is rather peculiar. As Ewa Siedlecka wrote, it was adopted during the General Assembly of the Constitutional Tribunal Judges on 31 August 2017. The Tribunal does not work during the holiday season, and the information about the assembly being called was not communicated to the judges by telephone or e-mail, but was printed and placed on their desks on 30 August.
The Code was never published – either in the official journal or on the Constitutional Tribunal’s website. Therefore, it was unclear for a long time what was actually posted there. Ewa Siedlecka received its content after several months of efforts through the procedure of gaining access to public information, but it has still not been published (e.g. it has not been posted on the Constitutional Tribunal’s website).
It provides, among other things, that:
§ 4.2. A judge of the Tribunal shall observe good practices.
§ 16.3. A judge shall not participate in a public debate on political matters or become involved in the activities of political parties and social movements addressing current politics.
§ 16.4. A judge of the Tribunal shall refrain from making statements that can undermine the status, authority and integrity of the Tribunal.
A breach of these paragraphs can result in disciplinary action.
How Muszyński prosecuted Stępień
This is not the first time in history that an incumbent Constitutional Tribunal judge, or rather a stand-in judge, has attempted to hold a retired Constitutional Tribunal judge accountable under the secret Code. In 2017, Mariusz Muszyński filed a motion to punish Jerzy Stępień for his statements at a Committee for the Defence of Democracy (KOD) rally.
Muszyński wrote the following about the accused:
- ‘the expression of the activities repeatedly overstepped the standards of cultural behaviour, breaching the dignity of state institutions or persons’.
In the motion, he also quoted statements from legal theorists, according to which:
- ‘the dignity of the judicial profession implies the requirement (…) to maintain an impeccable character, to safeguard the dignity of the judicial position, in and out of service, and to avoid anything that could bring disrepute to the profession practised (…).
- a judge’s presence in the public space should be characterized by moderation. The framework of that presence should be marked by concern for the common good and care for the State.
- a judge must exercise restraint in expressing emotions, especially when an unwarranted expression exposes others to the humiliation of their honour and dignity.
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Mariusz Muszyński himself allows himself somewhat less restraint. In the commentaries he publishes in Rzeczpospolita, he wrote about a CJEU judge ‘someone should finally take away this woman’s computer and pen’, or he wrung his hands over the qualifications of Supreme Court judges. He also runs the mariuszmuszynski.pl blog, which he set up in May 2020 and about which he wrote that it is a place ‘where, as a judge of the Constitutional Tribunal, I will be able to express myself about important public matters and also a little about the Constitutional Tribunal … ☺ sometimes seriously and sometimes maliciously ☺ depending on my mood…, but always with a great deal of substantive information.’
There, Muszyński sometimes comments on and criticizes the decisions of the Constitutional Tribunal and international courts, sometimes calls the sons of well-known lawyers ‘drug addicts and cutthroats’ and the Onet site a ‘German information centre’, and advertises subscriptions for ‘DoRzeczy’.
There is even a humour corner:
Pawłowicz – between the ‘ginger cloakroom attendant’ and ‘Kaczafi’
However, Mariusz Muszynski’s and Jarosław Wyrembak’s literary show are nothing compared to Krystyna Pawłowicz’s activities. The former PiS MP has also spoken out on the matter of ‘breaking off’. She has been posting about Donald Tusk for several days, claiming that he is an assassin and a women boxer, which, even so, is still a mild term. Before she became a Constitutional Tribunal judge, she called him, among other things, ‘a ginger German cloakroom attendant with a false look out of round fish eyes’. Not more than two months ago, she called Left MP, Tomasz Trela, a ‘boor’, a ‘rogue’, a ‘Calvary beggar’, a ‘fifth Russian column’ and a ‘scoundrel’. She also told him to fall ‘to his knees, under the table and take back his words’.
Krystyna Pawłowicz’s posts are virtually indistinguishable from any of the right-wing troll accounts. She regularly mocks opposition MPs by uploading detrimental photographs of them with malicious comments (e.g. Róża Thun, Katarzyna Lubnauer and Rafał Trzaskowski), posts tweet accounts, such as ‘Olga Srokarczuk’, homophobic memes, threatens ‘leftists’ that she will do away with them with the help of a sword, writes (in English) to Boris Johnson that the British government, judges and doctors murdered a Polish diplomat, and unleashed a campaign against a transgender child by publicizing its details.
The judge also has a dire opinion of the European Union, which she believes is planning to destroy Poland under Germany’s baton. Therefore… ‘The ONLY way out, is to gradually TAKE OVER THE EU, to tear it out of the German-Leftist hands, through electoral victories of the conservative parties in the European countries.
There are signs that this could end in success.’ (original spelling in Polish)
One of the conservative parties is particularly close to her heart. Pawłowicz regularly posts MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski’s tweets with his political comments. After all, she does not hold back with praise for the PiS politicians. She thanked Piotr Naimski, among others, ‘the silent hero of our security and energy independence’, and ‘Prime Minister JAROSŁAW KACZYŃSKI for the Act and activities strengthening the security of Poland and us Poles’.
After all, he frequently appears on Krystyna Pawłowicz’s Twitter account. And he does this in surprising configurations – as the fear-mongering ‘Kaczafi’…
Kaczafi w groźniejszej wersji….Żadnych układów nie będzie,jeńców nie bierzemy.. pic.twitter.com/J4VSKjkMNo
— Krystyna Pawłowicz (@KrystPawlowicz) March 16, 2022
Kaczafi in a more threatening version… There will be no agreements, we are not taking any prisoners.
… or a Christmas card.
Wszystkiego najlepszego dla wszystkich na czas przedświąteczny… pic.twitter.com/oZhkjlvWmw
— Krystyna Pawłowicz (@KrystPawlowicz) December 20, 2021
All the best to everyone for the pre-Christmas period
While commenting on Pawłowicz’s activities on Twitter, Jarosław Kaczyński said that ‘there is no rose without thorns’ and he cannot help the fact that the judge ‘has a publicist streak’. A great deal indicates that this streak is also a detective streak, as the former PiS MP sometimes displays knowledge that should not be available to her.
Several days before the so-called envelope elections planned by PiS for 10 May 2020, Jarosław Kaczyński signed an agreement with Jarosław Gowin, according to which the elections organized by PiS in breach of the law would not take place after all. However, a meeting of the party’s political committee was held at ul. Nowogrodzka on Saturday 9 May – Kaczyński wanted to break the agreement and bring about envelope elections on 23 May.
Krystyna Pawłowicz was one of the first people to speak publicly by name on this matter. The Constitutional Tribunal judge demonstrated that she was aware of the internal party gameplay at a time when the envelope election case submitted by the Marshal of the Sejm was suspended on the Court’s docket.
Well, hang on now… and pray for Poland
Turn on your TVs and wait…
Pray for Poland…
Wait in front of your TVs until the evening, there is a political and government crisis. Elections probably on 23 May… Probably a minority government…
Pray for Poland..
The prayers most clearly succeeded, because the elections did not take place either on 10 May or on 23 May, while the government is still fighting with the leftist EU, submitting successive motions to the Constitutional Tribunal to declare one treaty provision or another incompatible with the Polish Constitution.
Translated by Roman Wojtasz
The article was published in Polish at OKO.press.