Newly appointed judges will be able to run for the reformed National Council of the Judiciary (KRS). The Senate has passed the bill with amendments.

Share

Journalist at OKO.press.

More

The Senate has voted on the amendment to the KRS Act. Several dozen amendments have been introduced to the draft, including a very important one - granting newly appointed judges the right to stand for election to the Council. This is the result of the Venice Commission's opinion. But discussions with President Duda also concerned this issue.



On Thursday, the Senate voted in favor of the bill on the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS), which was passed by the Sejm on April 12th. It proposes that 15 judge members of the KRS would be elected by judges, not by members of parliament, as has been the case since 2018. The elections are to be organized by the State Electoral Commission. The fifteen judge members of the Council are to consist of:

 

– one judge from the Supreme Court,
– two judges from the Court of Appeals,
– three district court judges,
– six regional court judges,
– one military judge,
– one judge from the Supreme Administrative Court (NSA),
– one judge from the Provincial Administrative Court.

 

Groups of judges will be able to nominate candidates – 40 district court judges, 25 regional court judges, 10 court of appeals judges. Additionally, candidates could be nominated by the Supreme Bar Council, the National Chamber of Legal Advisors, and the National Chamber of Notaries. Retired judges do not have the right to support a candidate’s nomination or to stand as a candidate for membership of the Council.

 

The bill also provides for the establishment of a Social Council working alongside the KRS, which is to have an advisory role. Its composition is to include one person appointed by the Supreme Bar Council, the National Chamber of Legal Advisors, the National Chamber of Notaries, the Main Council of Science and Higher Education, the National Chamber of Judicial Officers, the Commissioner for Human Rights (RPO), and a trio of representatives from non-governmental organizations appointed by the Council for Public Benefit Activities.

 

The current KRS is to conclude its work on the day the results of the elections to the Council shaped by the new law are announced.

 

The sensitive issue of newly appointed judges running for office

During the Senate proceedings, several dozen amendments were proposed. PiS senators, for example, suggested delaying the start of the new KRS’s work until May 2026. However, their amendments were rejected, as was the proposal to reject the bill in its entirety.

 

Instead, amendments were passed allowing vacant positions in the KRS (e.g., due to a member’s death) to be filled by the next person with the highest number of votes, and allowing for the possibility of casting more than one vote in competitions. Judges will be able to nominate three judges from district courts, two from regional courts, two from appellate courts, one from the Supreme Court (SN), Supreme Administrative Court (NSA), provincial administrative courts, and military courts.

 

Senators also changed the provisions regarding passive electoral rights. The bill, as it came out of the Sejm, stated that judges appointed by the new KRS procedure could not run for KRS membership, unless they return to a position held under a procedure before 2018.

 

Critical comments on this solution were made during the parliamentary work on the bill by, among others, the Civil Development Forum and the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights. “Their status as judges has not been questioned in any binding decisions of the Republic of Poland; moreover, the state itself honors this status, for example, by recognizing judgments issued or paying salaries to these judges. The fact that the participation of a particular group of judges in adjudicating panels results in a violation of the right to a fair trial and carries appropriate procedural consequences does not in itself justify depriving them of passive electoral rights in elections to the Council,” FOR argued in its opinion.

 

The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the OSCE, in an urgent opinion issued in April, stated, “Such an approach may be justified as an initial, exceptional transitional measure applicable to the first KRS elections in its new composition, pending the resolution of a much broader and more controversial issue related to the status of judges appointed or promoted by the KRS after the 2017 reform.”

 

Key Opinion of the Venice Commission

On Wednesday, May 8th, the Venice Commission also issued an opinion on the draft law regarding the KRS, a request made by Minister Bodnar back in March. The Commission evaluated the entire reform as aiming to strengthen the independence of the judiciary and in line with European standards. It also deemed permissible the shortening of the current KRS’s term, which had been a controversial issue among the right-wing. However, the Venice Commission criticized the exclusion of newly appointed judges from the passive electoral right in elections to the Council because such a mechanism does not provide for their individual assessment. According to the Commission, this solution is disproportionate.

 

In light of this opinion, Senator Krzysztof Kwiatkowski (pictured at the top) proposed an amendment to remove from the bill the provision that excludes newly appointed judges from running for the new KRS.

 

“In light of the opinion of the Venice Commission, without a comprehensive regulation of the status of improperly appointed judges, excluding them from passive electoral rights could violate the principle of proportionality. Therefore, the Ministry supports this amendment,” said Deputy Minister Dariusz Mazur during the Senate committee’s work on Thursday.

 

The amendment striking out the provision excluding newly appointed judges from voting passed unanimously in the Senate.

 

What will the president do?

Now the bill will return to the Sejm, which will decide whether to accept or reject the Senate’s amendments. The change regarding the inclusion of newly appointed judges in the process of selecting the new KRS is significant, but, obviously, it has the government’s support. What decision will Andrzej Duda make?

 

The president had already announced several weeks ago in an interview with Dziennik Gazeta Prawna that he would veto the bill. In the interview, he specifically pointed out the issue of newly appointed judges:

 

“This law will not gain my approval in this form because there is no basis for differentiating between judges. Judges received their appointments from the President of the Republic of Poland, took oaths, and they all have equal status,” he stated.

 

As money.pl reported on Monday, the government had been negotiating the bill with the Presidential Palace. Adam Bodnar confirmed that talks had taken place. He said, “This is the last stage where one can still consult with the president and avoid the risk of a veto.”

 

Complying with the opinion of the Venice Commission thus has a dual significance – it also meets the expectations of the Presidential Palace. Will this persuade Andrzej Duda to sign the bill?

 

It’s still uncertain. The issue of newly appointed judges was not the only criticism of the amendment prepared by the government. The president also has more fundamental objections to it. In the aforementioned interview, he stated that the current KRS is the only one in history that has not been challenged by the Constitutional Tribunal. The president referred, of course, to the “judgments” of the politicized Constitutional Tribunal under Julia Przyłębska, which in 2021 ruled that the KRS before 2017 was unconstitutional, while its new form is constitutional. However, the project envisages the termination of the term of the new KRS, a body that Andrzej Duda considers constitutional, but whose independence has been repeatedly questioned in the case law of the CJEU and the ECtHR.

 

The article was published in Polish in OKO.press on 10 May 2024.



Author


Journalist at OKO.press.


More

Published

May 23, 2024

Tags

Supreme CourtConstitutional TribunalDisciplinary ChamberPolandjudgesdisciplinary proceedingsrule of lawZbigniew ZiobroNational Council of the JudiciaryCourt of Justice of the EUjudicial independenceEuropean CommissionEuropean UnionAndrzej DudaMałgorzata ManowskaCourt of JusticeEuropean Court of Human RightsMinister of JusticeIgor Tuleyadisciplinary systemAdam Bodnarmuzzle lawJarosław KaczyńskiNational Recovery PlanCJEUMateusz MorawieckiCommissioner for Human Rightsneo-judgesCourt of Justice of the European UniondemocracyPrzemysław RadzikWaldemar ŻurekNational Council for Judiciarypresidential electionselectionselections 2023disciplinary commissionercriminal lawJulia PrzyłębskaPiotr SchabKamil Zaradkiewiczmedia freedomharassmentpreliminary rulingsHungarySupreme Administrative Courtelections 2020K 3/21Dagmara Pawełczyk-WoickajudiciaryFirst President of the Supreme CourtŁukasz PiebiakprosecutorsPresidentRecovery FundBeata MorawiecPaweł JuszczyszynProsecutor GeneralMichał Lasotafreedom of expressionMaciej NawackiEuropean Arrest WarrantSejmprosecutionCOVID-19Regional Court in KrakówCriminal ChamberNational ProsecutorConstitutionPrime MinisterMinistry of JusticecourtsMałgorzata GersdorfMarek SafjanEU budgetdisciplinary liability for judgesMaciej FerekOSCEWojciech HermelińskiExtraordinary Control and Public Affairs ChamberIustitiacriminal proceedingsWłodzimierz WróbelVenice Commissionconditionality mechanismAleksander StepkowskiTHEMISLabour and Social Security ChamberStanisław BiernatPiScommission on Russian influenceStanisław PiotrowiczPresident of the Republic of PolandNCJimmunityconditionalityAnna DalkowskaJustice FundcorruptionLaw and JusticeNational Public ProsecutorCouncil of Europefreedom of assemblyKrystian MarkiewiczreformsReczkowicz and Others v. PolandKrzysztof Parchimowiczacting first president of the Supreme Court2017policeSenateAndrzej Zollmedia independenceSLAPPdefamationStrategic Lawsuits Against Public ParticipationLGBTJustice Defence Committee – KOSEwa ŁętowskaDidier ReyndersFreedom HouseAmsterdam District CourtMay 10 2020 electionsXero Flor w Polsce Sp. z o.o. v. PolandOrdo IurisPresident of PolandAndrzej StępkaBroda and Bojara v PolandSylwia Gregorczyk-AbramPiotr GąciarekJarosław WyrembakPM Mateusz MorawieckiArticle 7Next Generation EUConstitutional Tribunal PresidentUrsula von der LeyenLex DudaTVPmediaLex Super OmniaProfessional Liability ChamberreformJarosław DudziczK 7/21National Reconstruction PlansuspensionparliamentChamber of Professional LiabilityEAWArticle 6 ECHRP 7/20Supreme Court PresidentLech GarlickiMichał WawrykiewiczabortionPiotr PrusinowskiNational Electoral Commissionelectoral codeJanusz NiemcewiczTeresa Dębowska-RomanowskaStanisław RymarMałgorzata Pyziak- SzafnickaKazimierz DziałochaBogdan ŚwięczkowskiNetherlandsAndrzej MączyńskiMarek MazurkiewiczvetoStefan JaworskiMirosław GranatOLAFBiruta Lewaszkiewicz-PetrykowskaViktor OrbanJózef IwulskiMaciej MiteraSLAPPsjudcial independenceWojciech ŁączkowskiAdam JamrózPATFoxFerdynand RymarzKonrad WytrykowskiRafał Puchalskismear campaignmilestonesKrakówMarzanna Piekarska-Drążekstate of emergencyUkraineelectoral processBelaruscourt presidentsAdam SynakiewiczXero Flor v. PolandAstradsson v Icelandright to fair trialEdyta BarańskaJoanna Hetnarowicz-SikoraCentral Anti-Corruption BureauJakub IwaniecsurveillancePegasusDariusz DrajewiczJoanna Misztal-KoneckaCivil ChamberK 6/21Wojciech MaczugaSzymon Szynkowski vel SękDariusz ZawistowskiOKO.presselections integrityelections fairnessMarek ZubikBohdan ZdziennickiMirosław WyrzykowskiSławomira Wronkowska-JaśkiewiczPiotr TulejaJerzy StępieńAndrzej RzeplińskitransparencyMariusz KamińskiMaciej Taborowskiinsulting religious feelingsPaweł Filipekpublic mediaMariusz MuszyńskiKrystyna PawłowiczlexTuskcourt changesMarek PietruszyńskiMichał LaskowskiSupreme Audit Officeabuse of state resourcesLaw on the NCJEuropean ParliamentJarosław GowincoronavirusRussiaZuzanna Rudzińska-BluszczFree Courts11 January March in WarsawCCBEPiebiak gatehuman rightsrecommendationC-791/19Human Rights CommissionerMarcin WarchołLGBT ideology free zonesreportEuropean Association of JudgesPiotr Pszczółkowskiretirement agedecommunizationGeneral Assembly of the Supreme Court Judgesintimidation of dissentersdemocratic backslidingpublic opinion pollZiobroEU law primacyMarian BanaśThe Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europecriminal codeBelgiumlex NGOEwa Wrzosekcivil societytransferAdam Tomczyńskimedia pluralismBohdan Bieniek#RecoveryFilesFrans TimmermansLIBE Committeerepairing the rule of lawUS Department of StateMarcin KrajewskiKarolina Miklaszewska2018NGOFull-Scale Election Observation MissionODIHRNations in TransitStanisław ZabłockiPetros TovmasyanJerzy KwaśniewskiPiotr MazurekGrzegorz PudaNational Recovery Plan Monitoring CommitteeWiesław KozielewiczChamber of Extraordinary Control and Public AffairsMałgorzata Dobiecka-WoźniakCouncil of the EURafał LisakMichał DworczykWojciech Sadurskidefamatory statementsRome StatuteInternational Criminal CourtC-619/18Rights and Values Programmejudgepress releaseAntykastalex WoślegislationCourt of Appeal in KrakówPutinismKaczyńskiPaulina AslanowiczJarosław MatrasMałgorzata Wąsek-Wiaderekct on the Protection of the PopulatioWorld Justice Project awardStanisław ZdunIrena BochniakKrystyna Morawa-FryźlewiczŁukasz BilińskiIvan MischenkoJoanna Kołodziej-MichałowiczMonika FrąckowiakArkadiusz CichockiEmilia SzmydtTomasz SzmydtE-mail scandalAndrzej SkowronKasta/AntykastaKatarzyna Chmuraadvocate generalGrzegorz FurmankiewiczMarek JaskulskiEwa ŁąpińskaZbigniew ŁupinaPaweł StyrnaSwieczkowskiDworczyk leaksMałgorzata FroncHater ScandalAleksandra RutkowskaGeneral Court of the EUArkadiusz RadwanLech WałęsaWałęsa v. Polandright to an independent and impartial tribunal established by lawpilot-judgmentDonald Tusk governmentRafał WojciechowskiDobrochna Bach-Goleckalex RaczkowskiPiotr Raczkowskithe Spy ActdisinformationCT Presidentfundamental rightsNational Broadcasting Councilelection fairnessequal treatmentcivil lawMarcin MatczakDariusz KornelukNational School of Judiciary and Public Prosecution (KSSiP)codification commissiondelegationsWatchdog PolskaDariusz BarskiLasotapopulismState TribunalRadosław BaszukAction PlanJustice MinistryVěra JourováDonald Tuskjustice system reformAnti-SLAPP Directiveinsultgag lawsuitsstrategic investmentinvestmentlustrationJakub KwiecińskidiscriminationAct on the Supreme Courtelectoral commissionsEuropean Court of HuKrzysztof RączkaPoznańTomasz Koszewskitest of independenceSebastian MazurekElżbieta Jabłońska-MalikJoanna Scheuring-WielgusoppositionThe National Centre for Research and DevelopmentAdam Gendźwiłłtransitional justiceDariusz DończykKoan LenaertsKarol WeitzZbigniew KapińskiAnna GłowackaCourt of Appeal in WarsawOsiatyński'a ArchiveEUUS State DepartmentAssessment Actenvironmentextraordinary commissionWhite PaperKaspryszyn v PolandNCR&DNCBiREuropean Anti-Fraud Office OLAFJustyna WydrzyńskaAgnieszka Brygidyr-DoroszJoanna KnobelCrimes of espionageJędrzej Dessoulavy-ŚliwińskiMarek Piertuszyńskihate speechhate crimesmedia taxadvertising taxmediabezwyboruJacek KurskiKESMAIndex.huGrzęda v PolandŻurek v PolandPrzemysław CzarnekJacek CzaputowiczMarcin RomanowskiElżbieta KarskaPrzemysła Radzikmedia lawRafał TrzaskowskiSobczyńska and Others v PolandTelex.huJelenForum shoppingFirst President of the Suprme CourtEuropean Economic and Social CommitteeSebastian KaletaOrganization of Security and Co-operation in EuropeC-156/21C-157/21foreign agents lawArticle 2Rome IIJózsef SzájerChamber of Extraordinary VerificationKlubrádióequalityGazeta WyborczaLGBT free zonesPollitykaBrussels Ilegislative practiceENAZbigniew BoniekAK judgmentautocratizationMultiannual Financial FrameworkOpenbaar MinisterieRegional Court in Amsterdamabortion rulingArticle 10 ECHRprotestsinterim measuresLeszek MazurIrena MajcherAmsterdamLMmutual trustthe Regional Court in Warsawpublic broadcasterUnited NationsForum Współpracy Sędziówthe NetherlandsDenmarkact on misdemeanoursCivil Service ActParliamentary Assembly of the Council of EuropeNorwegian Ministry of Foreign AffairsNorwegian fundsNorwayKraśnikOmbudsmanKarlsruheAusl 301 AR 104/19SwedenFinlandMariusz KrasońC-487/19GermanyCelmerC354/20 PPUC412/20 PPUIrelandMarek AstLSOright to protestSławomir JęksaWiktor JoachimkowskiRoman Giertychtrans-Atlantic valuesMichał WośMinistry of FinancelawyersMirosław Wróblewskirepressive actborderprimacyEU treatiesAgnieszka Niklas-BibikSłupsk Regional CourtMaciej RutkiewiczAct of 20 December 2019Amnesty InternationalJacek SasinEvgeni TanchevKochenovPechPaulina Kieszkowska-KnapikMaria Ejchart-DuboisAgreement for the Rule of LawPorozumienie dla PraworządnościAct sanitising the judiciaryFreedom in the WorldECJErnest BejdaThe First President of the Supreme CourtMaciej CzajkaMariusz JałoszewskiŁukasz RadkepolexitFrackowiakDolińska-Ficek and Ozimek v PolandRzeszówKoen LenaertsharrassmentOlimpia Barańska-Małuszeinfringment actionHudocPKWKonrad SzymańskiPiotr BogdanowiczPiotr BurasLeon KieresIpsosEU valuesNational Prosecutor’s OfficeBogdan ŚwiączkowskiDisicplinary ChamberTribunal of StateOlsztyn courtPrzemysła CzarnekEducation MinisterENCJauthoritarian equilibriumArticle 258postal voteTVNjournalistslexTVNEwa MaciejewskaGerard BirgfellerPolish mediaAlina CzubieniakSimpson judgmentpostal vote billclientelismoligarchic systemEuropean Public Prosecutor's Officeresolution of 23 January 2020Polish National FoundationLux VeritatisMałgorzata BednarekPiotr WawrzykIsrael