Mass objection of judges: several hundred reported themselves to the disciplinary commissioners
Judges from all over Poland are reporting themselves to the disciplinary commissioners. This is how they are supporting judges from Piotrków Trybunalski, who are being prosecuted for signing a letter to the OSCE, as well as the head of the largest association of judges in Poland, Krystian Markiewicz.
The letters of protest with elements of self-denunciation are an act of solidarity with the repressed judges, but also an act of opposition to the actions of the disciplinary commissioners of the Minister of Justice, Zbigniew Ziobro. The judiciary is increasingly turning to this form of opposition.
In recent weeks, judges “reported” themselves en masse to the deputy disciplinary commissioner at the Regional Court in Piotrków Trybunalski.
When instituting explanatory proceedings against 15 judges of the district courts subordinated to the Regional Court in Piotrków Trybunalski, the commissioner demanded that the judges explain themselves about signing a letter to the OSCE dated 29 April regarding the organisation of the presidential elections by correspondence, which were originally planned for 10 May (the elections were not held at that time as a result of a decision made by Jarosław Kaczyński).
In the letter, the judges requested the OSCE to monitor the planned elections and to send its observers to the elections. The letter was signed by 1,278 judges from the whole of Poland. This included a group of 31 judges from the Regional Court in Piotrków Trybunalski and its subordinated district courts.
Only the district court judges from the Piotrków Trybunalski region are now being prosecuted for signing that letter.
In the summons sent to the judges, the disciplinary commissioner from Piotrków, Anna Gąsior-Majchrowska, wrote that the signature of the letter to the OSCE could be a disciplinary offence. She also stated that the Constitution prohibits judges from conducting public activities that are irreconcilable with the principles of judicial independence.
These proceedings could end in cancellation or in disciplinary charges being pressed against the judges.
The vice-president of the Association of Polish Judges, Iustitia, Tomasz Marczyński, who is a judge of the District Court in Bełchatów is also under threat of such charges.
Gesture of objection and solidarity
66 judges from the Piotrków region and 410 judges from the rest of Poland sent self-denunciation letters as a gesture of objection and solidarity with the judges from Piotrków.
In the letters, the judges call on the commissioner to reflect on her actions, but they can also be treated as a kind of self-denunciation, because the judges admit that they also signed the letter to the OSCE.
As many as 771 judges in defence of the head of Iustitia
A similar solidarity campaign was organised by judges in defence of the head of the Association of Polish Judges, Iustitia, Krystian Markiewicz. 771 judges from the whole of Poland have already stood behind him and reported themselves to the disciplinary commissioner.
Iustitia is a group of independent judges who are defending the free courts. That is why the members of this association are being harassed with disciplinary action. Meanwhile, slandering campaigns have been organised against its head, Krystian Markiewicz.
Although Judge Markiewicz himself is a victim of a hate campaign, he already has several disciplinary cases initiated against him by Minister Zbigniew Ziobro’s disciplinary commissioners. In one of them, he was charged with as many as 55 alleged disciplinary offences.
The charges were brought against him in December 2019 by the deputy chief disciplinary commissioner, Przemysław Radzik. He did not like the fact that Markiewicz, as the head of Iustitia, sent a letter in May 2019 to the presidents of the courts and the disciplinary judges operating at the courts, in which he urged them to refrain from adjudicating in disciplinary cases and not to send files with appeals to the Disciplinary Chamber at the Supreme Court appointed by PiS.
In his letter, Markiewicz used the argument of waiting for the judgment of the CJEU on the legality of the new, unconstitutionally established National Council of the Judiciary and the Disciplinary Chamber, which is mainly staffed by prosecutors who collaborated with Zbigniew Ziobro’s supporters in the prosecution service. In his letter, the president of Iustitia questioned the legality of the Disciplinary Chamber and expressed doubts about the legality of the new NCJ. The CJEU issued its ruling on this matter in November 2019. The CJEU held that the legality of the Disciplinary Chamber must be determined by the Supreme Court itself, although it presented the criteria that it should take into account.
According to Disciplinary Commissioner Radzik, the letter signed by Markiewicz, as the chairman of the largest association of judges in Poland, is a political manifesto in which he questioned the independence and legality of the new NCJ, as well as the legality and apolitical nature of the Disciplinary Chamber.
Furthermore, according to Radzik, the head of Iustitia was supposed to have been inciting the addressees of the letter to “commit a disciplinary tort involving not respecting the legal order of the Republic of Poland by refraining from adjudicating and not presenting the appeals of the parties and disciplinary case files to the Disciplinary Chamber”.
Now, the letter with the statement from the judges, for which Markiewicz is being charged, has already been signed by 771 judges.
“I am aware that pressing many thousands of successive charges will be quite a challenge. However, your activity to date as deputy disciplinary commissioner proves that you are not afraid of challenges and you feel that your service is exceptional. Please find enclosed printouts of signed appeals,” Tomasz Marczyński, deputy head of Iustitia, wrote in his letter to Radzik.
Translated by Roman Wojtasz