Half a million for prosecuting defiant judges. The Law and Justice authority is throwing money at Ziobro’s disciplinary commissioners
Increasingly more people are involved in prosecuting and repressing independent judges. Not only have other judges joined Schab’s, Radzik’s and Lasota’s team of disciplinary commissioners, but so have assistants. The costs of employing them are also increasing, because they spent PLN 156,000 on travel and accommodation alone last year.
OKO.press obtained information about the costs of the activities of the chief disciplinary commissioner, Piotr Schab, and his two deputies, Przemysław Radzik and Michał Lasota who were all nominated by Minister Ziobro, who appointed them in mid-2018.
Little was known until now about how their office works. All the more so that the disciplinary commissioners are unlikely to divulge any information about their work. However, we managed to obtain data showing how much their ‘work’, which primarily involves prosecuting independent judges, is costing the taxpayers.
How Schab’s, Radzik’s and Lasota’s team has grown
According to data in the possession of OKO.press, 12 people were working for the office of the disciplinary commissioner for judges in October 2020. They are primarily Schab, Radzik, Lasota and the disciplinary commissioner for military judges, Major Andrzej Wilczewski.
In comparison, only three people were working for the office of the chief disciplinary commissioner for judges of the ordinary courts in 2017, before Schab and his deputies were appointed. They were the chief disciplinary commissioner Marek Hibner, the disciplinary commissioner for military judges Andrzej Wilczewski and a senior specialist (who has been working in the secretarial office since 1989).
The current organisation for prosecuting judges has been growing systematically. When Minister Ziobro appointed Schab, Radzik and Lasota as disciplinary commissioners in June 2018, only one person was working in their office. This was a senior specialist who had been working there for many years. Three new people appeared at the end of 2018, two assistant judges and another senior specialist.
The disciplinary commissioners received strong substantive support in the spring of 2019. Because Minister Ziobro seconded two judges, Beata Adamczyk-Łabuda and Edyta Dzielińska (both from the District Court for the Capital City of Warsaw) and another assistant judge to work for the disciplinary commissioner’s office. A Senior Counsellor also started to work for that office. We wrote in OKO.press about the protest of the Warsaw judges criticising their colleagues for working for Ziobro’s disciplinary commissioners.
How much does the employment of Ziobro’s disciplinary commissioners cost the taxpayer?
Not only has Schab’s, Radzik’s and Lasota’s team grown. The cost of employing them has also increased. In 2018, when they started to conduct their activities, the upkeep of the chief disciplinary commissioner and his office cost PLN 232k. This year, PLN 103k was spent on salaries, while PLN 53.7k was spent on travel and accommodation of the disciplinary commissioner and his deputies. A further PLN 44k was spent on the lease of office space and PLN 27k was spent on furnishing it.
The costs increased to PLN 529k in 2019. As much as PLN 156k was spent on travel and accommodation for the chief disciplinary commissioner and his deputies, while PLN 77.5k was spent on people seconded to work for his office. The salaries of the secretarial staff and the commissioner’s deputies cost PLN 222k. PLN 9.6k was spent on current expenses on maintaining the office, while PLN 64k was spent on the lease of office space.
The upkeep of Ziobro’s disciplinary commissioners had already cost PLN 346k up to September 2020.
In contrast, the maintenance of the chief disciplinary commissioner and his office cost PLN 174k in 2017. He occupied 3 rooms of an area of 68.5 square metres.
Now, Ziobro’s commissioners have 8 rooms of an area of 190 square metres available to them, on the upkeep of which they have already spent PLN 80k this year.
How Ziobro’s disciplinary commissioners cranked up the disciplinary repressions of independent judges
Therefore, it arises from the data in the possession of OKO.press that it costs the state budget three times more to keep Ziobro’s disciplinary commissioners than their predecessor, Judge Marek Hibner.
This is because they have more work. However, it was Schab, Radzik and Lasota, who made more work for themselves. They have been given more powers and have focused on multiplying disciplinary proceedings against defiant judges. They are being prosecuted for defending the free courts, for their independent judgments which the authorities do not like, for criticising the ‘good change’ in the media and for meetings with citizens.
The best-known judges they are prosecuting are Waldemar Żurek, the former press officer of the old and legal NCJ, Igor Tuleya, who is already a symbol of the free courts, and Paweł Juszczyszyn, who was the first to implement the CJEU judgment regarding the new NCJ in Poland. Over 100 judges are already being prosecuted by Ziobro’s disciplinary commissioners. We have published the list of these judges in OKO.press and will shortly update it, because new judges are still being entered onto the list.
How Ziobro’s disciplinary commissioners are ‘furthering their own careers’
Schab, Radzik and Lasota are taking advantage of their work with Minister Ziobro. Radzik, who was appointed by Minister Ziobro, is the president of the District Court in Krosno Odrzańskie, while Michał Lasota is the president of the district court in Nowe Miasto Lubawskie. Both of them were seconded to the Regional Court in Warsaw, the largest court in Poland by way of a decision of the justice ministry.
All of them are being promoted. Piotr Schab was promoted to the Court of Appeal in Warsaw as a result of the recommendations of the new NCJ. Michał Lasota received such a promotion to the Regional Court in Elbląg. Meanwhile, Przemysław Radzik was recently promoted to the Court of Appeal in Warsaw (even though he is a district court judge). Radzik’s wife, Gabriela Zalewska-Radzik, was also promoted. Although she was a legal counsel to date, she was promoted to the Supreme Administrative Court. The group of so-called hawks in the new NCJ were among those who supported her candidacy and Radzik. We wrote about this in OKO.press.
This is not the end of the benefits. Dziennik Gazeta Prawna wrote that the Minister Ziobro’s ministry is considering allowances of several thousand zlotys for judges from the ‘good change’. As a result, Piotr Schab, the chief disciplinary commissioner could receive an additional PLN 5,000 per month.
Translated by Roman Wojtasz