Despite the war, PiS is on a collision course with the EU and wants to elect a neo-NCJ mk II. People associated with Ziobro will end up there.
The Law and Justice party (PiS) is continuing to breach the rule of law and exacerbate the conflict with the EU. The ruling party has already agreed on a list of 15 candidates for the neo-NCJ II, which gives nominations to judges. It will be even worse than the current one, because the list contains “hawks” headed by Łukasz Piebiak.
The list of 15 candidates for judge-members of the second term of office the National Council of the Judiciary (neo-NCJ) has just been posted on the Sejm’s website. The list was created through PiS’s support of 9 candidates. The others were nominated by the Presidium of the Sejm, in which PiS has 3 out of 6 votes.
PiS is in a hurry with the election, as the term of office of the current neo-NCJ ends in March this year. But the election of the Council for a second term will prove that the ruling party does not want to implement the judgments of the ECtHR and the CJEU. These judgments not only question the legality of the Disciplinary Chamber – over which PiS is now arguing with the EU – but also of the neo-NCJ. It was stated that this is the main source of the problems with the rule of law in Poland. Because the neo-KRS, as a defective body, gives defective nominations to judges (neo-judges).
PiS is now showing that it is pushing forward at all costs, exacerbating the conflict with the EU.
The list of 15 candidates agreed upon by PiS and the Presidium has already been given a Sejm form number and will go to the Sejm’s justice committee for deliberation. It is not known when the Sejm will vote on the members of the neo-NCJ mk II, but it may do this as early as at its session next week.
The fact that PiS is on a collision course with the EU is also demonstrated by the list of candidates, which has been agreed upon by the ruling party’s club and the Sejm’s presidium. It includes almost all the same judges cooperating with Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro’s ministry, including two of his former deputies. These are Anna Dalkowska and Łukasz Piebiak, whose name appears in connection with the hate scandal. The other candidates are current members of the neo-NCJ, mainly from the hawk faction that supports Ziobro’s harsh course in the courts.
Why the neo-NCJ is illegal
PiS is pushing for the election of a neo-NCJ mk II, even though a whole series of judgments of the ECtHR and CJEU were passed in 2021 questioning its legality. The courts ruled that the Council is not a body that is independent of politicians. This arises from the fact that its 15 judge-members were elected by the Sejm (PiS and Kukiz’15) and not, as previously, by the judicial community. Furthermore, most of its members are connected with the justice minister’s ministry.
The membership of the neo-NCJ is also in conflict with the Constitution, which states that the Sejm elects only four representatives (MPs) to the Council.
It also arises from the judgments of the European courts that the neo-NCJ, as a defective body, gives defective nominations to judges (neo-judges). The ECtHR even emphasised that the neo-NCJ is the main source of problems with the rule of law in Poland.
As can be seen, PiS does not care about these judgments and is pushing for the election to be held for the Council in its second term. ‘We object to this election. Judges to the NCJ should be elected by judges and not by politicians,’ Kamila Gasiuk-Pichowicz, MP of the Civic Coalition tells us. She adds: ‘There is a war in which Ukrainians are suffering. And PiS is treating this as a smokescreen to attack the rule of law in Poland. This is wicked. The NCJ is the nucleus of darkness that is poisoning the whole of the justice system.’
Gasiuk-Pihowicz emphasises that the list of 15 judges specified by PiS and the Sejm Presidium to the neo-NCJ is a list of shame for the Polish justice system. ‘People who owe the promotions of their lives to the current government have come forward. But they will go down in history in the black books,’ Gasiuk-Pihowicz says. She points out that her club objects to the election of the neo-NCJ because it is in conflict with the Constitution. ‘We will not help this along,’ the MP adds.
Who PiS wants in the neo-NCJ in its second term
A total of 19 candidates have applied to the Sejm for election to the neo-NCJ for the second term. Four of them have already dropped out, because neither PiS nor the Sejm Presidium supported them. These are the former chairman of the neo-NCJ, Leszek Mazur and the former press officer of the neo-NCJ Maciej Mitera. Both lost their positions in January 2021 for revealing that some of the members of the Council were earning additional allowances to their salaries by sitting on NCJ committees. Both were considered to be among the dove faction in the neo-NCJ, which wanted to work more objectively.
Likewise, the candidacies of Irena Bochniak, vice-president of the Regional Court in Kraków and Krystyna Morawa-Fryźlewicz, president of the Regional Court in Nowy Targ, were not supported. Bochniak failed to gain the Sejm’s support for the second time. The first time she lost in 2021 when she ran for the vacancy that arose in the neo-NCJ. On the other hand, Morawa-Fryźlewicz is known for her advocacy of the Cursed Soldiers.
When preparing the final list of 15 candidates to the neo-NCJ, PiS and the Sejm’s Presidium mainly nominated the current members of the neo-NCJ. There are as many as 12 of them on the list (we have written them up later in the article). Only three people are new. These are:
– Anna Dalkowska, a former deputy minister of justice. Although she was a regular judge of the District Court in Malbork, the neo-NCJ gave her a nomination as high as to the Supreme Administrative Court, and the President appointed her. She is therefore a neo-judge. Now PiS has nominated her.
– Łukasz Piebiak (pictured above), judge of the District Court for the Capital City of Warsaw. He is a former deputy of Minister Ziobro. He was his chief personnel officer in the courts and helped him with his ‘reforms’. He had to leave the ministry in August 2019 because his name appeared in connection with the hate scandal.
Piebiak is now trying to return as a major player in the courts. He was already running for office in the new NCJ in 2021 to fill a vacancy that appeared at that time, but the Sejm did not support him. He also entered several recruitments to the office of Supreme Court judge, but did not receive a nomination. However, the new NCJ gave him a nomination to the Supreme Administrative Court. The current neo-NCJ has a so-called group of hawks, which is associated with him. It supports a harsh course against independent judges. He was nominated by PiS.
– Stanisław Zdun, a judge of the Regional Court in Warsaw. He is a neo-judge, having received his nomination to the Regional Court from the neo-NCJ. He is also the vice-president of the District Court for the Capital City of Warsaw, nominated by Ziobro’s ministry. Zdun is known for acquitting Wojciech Sumliński, a right-wing journalist, who was accused in connection with the work of Antoni Macierewicz’s military intelligence service verification committee several years earlier. Zdun has been in the headlines in recent months because Judge Piotr Gąciarek refused to adjudicate with him. Because he is a neo-judge. He was nominated by the Presidium of the Sejm.
Who from the current neo-NCJ received support from PiS and the Presidium of the Sejm
The other candidates accepted for the second term of office of the neo-NCJ are its current members:
– Katarzyna Chmura, a judge of the District Court in Malbork. She has been in the current NCJ for a year, having been elected to fill a vacancy. She is considered to be a part of the dove faction. She was nominated by the Presidium of the Sejm.
– Dariusz Drajewicz, a judge of the District Court for Warszawa-Mokotów and a member of the current neo-NCJ. He is known for holding several positions at the same time. He was vice-president of the Regional Court in Warsaw for several years, but the media revealed that he was not overworked in that position. He is currently adjudicating on secondment in the Court of Appeal. The neo-NCJ nominated him to the illegal Disciplinary Chamber, but this was overturned by the Chamber of Extraordinary Control and Public Affairs appointed by PiS. Then, the neo-NCJ gave him a nomination to the Court of Appeal in Warsaw, but the President has not yet appointed him. His partner, Joanna Oliwa also received a nomination to the Regional Court from the neo-NCJ. He was nominated by the Presidium of the Sejm
– Jarosław Dudzicz, the president of the Regional Court in Gorzów Wielkopolski nominated by Ziobro’s ministry, a member of the current neo-NCJ. He is a regular judge at the District Court in Słubice, but rules on secondment at the Gorzów Regional Court. A member of the current neo-NCJ. His wife, Anna Dudzicz, is an assistant at the District Court in Słubice.
Dudzicz is credited with anonymous anti-Semitic posts in the Internet. An investigation has been in progress in this case for several years. The case was written up by ‘Gazeta Wyborcza’. In 2015, a user using the nickname ‘jorry123’ posted an anti-Semitic entry on one of the internet forums where he called the Jewish people a ‘despicable, vile people’.
He also wrote, for example, about the Kielce pogrom, that ‘it was a security service provocation, and as is common knowledge, the security service was dominated by iews at that time, so those jews took action against other jews to justify further war against the steadfast soldiers’ (translation of the original text – with typographical errors – ed.). The Wrocław prosecutor’s office established that Dudzicz was supposed to have been using that nickname. In the new NCJ, he is considered to be in the hawk faction. He was nominated by PiS.
– Grzegorz Furmankiewicz, a judge of the Regional Court in Krosno, member of the current neo-NCJ. He is not treated as belonging to any faction. He is considered to be standing in the middle. He was previously a regular judge of the District Court in Jasło. Under the current government, Ziobro’s ministry appointed him vice-president of the Regional Court in Krosno, while the current NCJ, of which he is a member, nominated him to the office of judge of that Regional Court in Krosno. He is therefore a neo-judge. Thanks to Ziobro’s ministry, he was also a member of examination committees for attorneys-at-law (for which he received additional remuneration). He was nominated by PiS.
– Marek Jaskulski, a judge of the District Court in Poznań-Stare Miasto, a member of the current neo-NCJ. He is considered to be in the hawk faction. He was nominated by PiS.
– Joanna Kołodziej-Michałowicz, a judge of the District Court in Słupsk, a member of the current neo-NCJ. The Council gave nominated her for the office of regional court judge (the president has not yet appointed her), as it did for her husband, Andrzej Michałowicz, president of the Regional Court in Słupsk. Her sister, Ewa Kołodziej-Dubowska, from the court in Białystok also received a nomination to a court of a higher instance from the new NCJ. Kołodziej-Michałowicz is not included in any faction in the new NCJ. Although she is said to be closer to the hawks. She was nominated by PiS.
– Ewa Łąpińska, a judge of the District Court in Jaworzno. She is a member of the current neo-NCJ and is considered to be in the dove faction. She was nominated by the Presidium of the Sejm.
– Zbigniew Łupina, a judge of the District Court in Biłgoraj. He is a member of the current neo-NCJ and is considered to be in the hawk faction. He tried to be promoted to the Supreme Administrative Court for a long time, but withdrew from this. He is the president of the District Court in Biłgoraj, nominated by Ziobro’s ministry. In 2021, it was headline news that his wife might have voted remotely for him in the Council. He was nominated by PiS.
– Maciej Nawacki, a judge of the District Court in Olsztyn, the president of that court nominated by Ziobro’s ministry and a member of the current neo-NCJ. He is considered to be in the hawk faction. He is one of the symbols of the bad change in the courts. It is he who is blocking the execution of court judgments and is not allowing the suspended Judge Paweł Juszczyszyn to adjudicate. Nawacki is in conflict with the Olsztyn judges, to whom he even sent the police for picketing in solidarity with a judge who was being prosecuted.
The new NCJ, of which he is a member, gave him a nomination to the office of regional court judge and judge of the Supreme Administrative Court. When running for office in the current NCJ, Nawacki did not have all the required signatures of support, because some judges withdrew them. As a result, the election of the whole of the Council is being contested, because all the judge-members were elected in a single vote. He was nominated by PiS.
– Dagmara Pawełczyk-Woicka, the president of the Regional Court in Kraków nominated by Ziobro’s ministry. She is a member of the current neo-NCJ and Zbigniew Ziobro’s former schoolmate. Pawełczyk-Woicka is heavily conflicted with the judges in Kraków. She transferred four judges to other divisions on disciplinary charges for implementing ECtHR and CJEU judgments. She also suspended Judge Maciej Ferek and Anna Głowacka for this for a month.
Pawełczyk-Woicka was promoted to regional court judge by the new NCJ (she is a neo-judge), while her partner, Judge Dariusz Pawłyszcze was promoted to the Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court. She is not considered to be a part of any faction in the NCJ, but is believed to be closer to the hawks. She was nominated by the Presidium of the Sejm.
– Rafał Puchalski, a judge of the District Court in Jarosław, the president of the Regional Court in Rzeszów nominated by Ziobro’s ministry. He is a member of the current neo-NCJ. His name came up in the context of the hate scandal. Rzeszów judges filed a precedent-setting action against him for the way they are treated in court. He retaliated by sending the disciplinary commissioner a notice for issuing judgments in line with the Constitution.
Puchalski was previously a member of an online group supporting PiS and President Duda. The new NCJ, of which he is a member, gave him a nomination to the illegal Disciplinary Chamber, but the President did not appoint him. So it then gave him a nomination to the Court of Appeal in Rzeszów as well. He is considered to be in the hawk faction. He was nominated by PiS.
– Paweł Styrna, a judge of the Regional Court in Wieliczka. He is the president of the current NCJ and is considered to be a part of the dove faction. He was nominated by the Presidium of the Sejm.
Published in Polish at OKO.press, 11 March 2022.