Judge Monika Frąckowiak: The authorities have demolished the system in Poland
Never before have the judges in Europe been so unified and united,’ says Monika Frąckowiak, judge of the District Court in Poznań.
An interview with judge Monika Frąckowiak who is a member of the Management Board of the Poznań branch of the Iustitia Association of Polish Judges and a member of the Management Board of MEDEL, European Judges and Public Prosecutors for Democracy and Fundamental Rights.
The interview was published in Rzeczpospolita daily in Polish.
Agata Łukaszewicz: From the latest reports in the media on the so-called hate scandal, it appears that you were personally affected by this matter. Were you surprised that Arkadiusz Cichocki, the former president of the Regional Court in Gliwice, was collecting information about you, probably not to praise you, but to hassle you?
I have already personally been feeling the effects of the so-called hate scandal since the turn of 2018/2019 and, in fact, the effects of the coordinated actions of the network of Ministry of Justice representatives, the disciplinary commissioners appointed by Zbigniew Ziobro, the judges who are loyal to him and the pro-government ‘journalists’ and online haters. It was only a matter of time before it was confirmed that these were organised activities. I already knew that Judge Cichocki was among those involved in the matter since the disclosure of the affair by Emilia Szmydt, in August 2019. Incidentally, it should be emphasised that she was the first to break the conspiracy of silence on this and she is paying a high price for it. The information provided by Judge Cichocki confirms that the data revealed by Emilia Szmydt is true and sheds more light on the pathology of the whole system created by Zbigniew Ziobro, Łukasz Piebiak and their collaborators.
Do you believe in his regret today? Have you spoken to him about this? Has he apologised?
I certainly appreciate that he has chosen to speak up. I understand that it was not easy. Of course, this does not erase the evil in which he participated, but it brings the perpetrators closer to being held accountable, who, despite being criminals, are still dealing the cards in the Polish justice system. I have no doubts that Arkadiusz Cichocki and Tomasz Szmydt were not the players dealing the cards in this disgusting procedure. I have never met Judge Cichocki in person, but he has apologised to me in public several times.
Are you counting on this case ending up in court? Is the prosecutor’s office in no hurry to clarify the matter?
I am convinced that sentences will be passed sooner or later against the perpetrators of the crimes committed in the so-called hate scandal (after all, the name is a euphemism in the light of the calibre of the breaches of the law). Emilia Szmydt, Arkadiusz Cichocki and Tomasz Szmydt will not be the last. There will certainly be more people who will start to talk. We already have enough evidence, including testimonies of witnesses, as well as secured data on IT media, to effectively seek redress in the civil courts (after all, such proceedings are already pending). The public prosecutor’s office is dragging out the case as much as it can, and the court has already held that its proceedings are being protracted. However, this will not protect the perpetrators from criminal liability in the future.
Have you ever wondered how the Ministry of Justice got so upset with you that it took such an interest in you?
In a way, it’s an honour, since I am just an ordinary district court judge. After all, it’s funny that Zbigniew Ziobro and his colleagues claimed from the beginning that they were fighting against the judicial ‘aristocracy’ concentrated mainly in the so-called palaces, namely the higher order courts. Meanwhile, the main resistance to the demolition of the rule of law in Poland is coming from the so-called ‘pits’, namely, from the district court judges. It seems to me that the authorities did not like my activity in the international arena. As a member of the management board of MEDEL (European Judges and Public Prosecutors for Democracy and Fundamental Rights), I meet regularly with lawyers and journalists from all over Europe, presenting the situation in Poland. I also represent Iustitia at international meetings.
What is the fate of the request for the preliminary ruling you submitted to the CJEU?
The CJEU has already issued its ruling, in which it once again pointed out the gross inconsistency of Polish law laid down by the so-called ‘good change’ with European law. Now, it’s the turn of the Supreme Court, to which the case was referred from Luxembourg.
How does the International MEDEL Association, of which you are a member of the management board, assess what is happening today in the Polish justice system?
The judges and prosecutors operating within MEDEL are horrified. All the more so because, for many years, we have been perceived as a country with a well-functioning justice system. Regardless of the weaknesses which, after all, also existed before 2015, our colleagues from Romania and Bulgaria looked on us as a role model. They are concerned that, since the authorities have demolished the system in Poland, it could happen all the more so in their countries. The representatives of the so-called old democracies are also concerned, because legal populism is unfortunately thriving throughout Europe. However, the tragic events in Poland have also had good consequences: never before have Europe’s judges been so unified and united. The best evidence of this was the March of a Thousand Togas in January 2020, in which judges from over 20 European countries took part.