Judges in Poland are being prosecuted for signing a letter to the OSCE regarding the presidential elections
A dozen or so judges from Piotrków Trybunalski and the surrounding area are under threat of disciplinary action for signing a letter to the OSCE. The local disciplinary commissioner who was promoted in court at the time of the PiS government is investigating them
The deputy disciplinary commissioner at the Regional Court in Piotrków Trybunalski, Anna Gąsior-Majchrowska, is investigating the judges from district courts, asking to provide explanations. She has initiated preliminary investigations to find any signs of disciplinary offences.
The disciplinary commissioner assumed that the signature of a letter to the director of the OSCE Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights by the judges was this disciplinary offence.
The commissioner writes that the Constitution prohibits judges from conducting public activities that are irreconcilable with the principles of judicial independence. However, she does not explain what is wrong with the fact that the judges have signed such a letter.
The letter to the OSCE/ODIHR is dated 29 April 2020. In it, the judges requested the OSCE/ODIHR to monitor the presidential election by post in May and to send its observers to these elections. In the letter, they emphasised that many Poles would not be able to take part in such elections due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
The letter is an initiative of judges from Szczecin. But a total of 1278 judges from all over Poland signed it. These included a group of 31 judges from the Regional Court in Piotrków Trybunalski and its subordinate district courts (17 such judges of district courts signed the letter to the OSCE).
Only the district judges from Piotrków Trybunalski are receiving the letters from the disciplinary commissioner with the demand to provide explanations, because only they can be prosecuted.
Promotion from the new NCJ
The disciplinary commissioner from the court in Piotrków has not been in the public eye to date. Independent judges are being prosecuted in Poland by powerful minister of justice Zbigniew Ziobro’s disciplinary commissioners: the main commissioner, Piotr Schab, and his two deputies, Przemysław Radzik and Michał Lasota, for defending judicial independence.
The judges from Piotrków and the surrounding area have not been in the public eye to date. Some of them belong to the largest association of judges in Poland, Iustitia, which defends the independence of the courts, and mainly sign various appeals and letters, such as the one to the OSCE/ODIHR.
So why are proceedings, which may end in disciplinary charges, being brought so suddenly against them? And it is not Minister Ziobro’s disciplinary commissioners who are doing this, but a commissioner from Piotrków?
Judge Anna Gąsior-Majchrowska’ promotions started during the rule of the current authorities. Years ago, she was an assistant to Judge Stanisław Tomasik, who is currently the president of the Regional Court in Piotrków Trybunalski (nominated by Minister Ziobro).
After being an assistant in 2010, Judge Gąsior-Majchrowska became a district judge in the court in Tomaszów Mazowiecki. In July 2019, the president appointed her to the office of regional court judge. She received this promotion from the new National Council of Judiciary (NCJ). A total of eight judges (with extensive experience) competed for this position, but the new NCJ nominated Gąsior-Majchrowska. She became the Deputy Disciplinary Commissioner shortly after being appointed to the regional court. A total of five judges applied for this second position. And although her competitors received more votes, Gąsior-Majchrowska won again.
Translated by Roman Wojtasz