The Disciplinary Chamber goes to task on judges Morawiec and Tuleya
The Disciplinary Chamber will decide at the beginning of October whether the National Prosecutor’s Office will be able to press far-fetched criminal charges against judges who are known for defending the free courts. Judges and lawyers from all over Poland are supporting Igor Tuleya and Beata Morawiec.
The article was published in Polish at OKO.press on 27 September 2020.
Judges in Poland photographed themselves in front of the courts in the past few days with such slogans as ‘United with Judge Beata Morawiec’, ‘Full support for Beata’, ‘Today Beata, tomorrow you’, ‘Full support for Beata, we will not be intimidated’, ‘Enough repression, hands off judge Morawiec’.
This is a gesture of solidarity and support for Judge Beata Morawiec from Krakow, on whom the National Prosecutor’s Office headed by Bogdan Święczkowski wants to press highly dubious criminal charges.
The judges picketed in solidarity before the courts in large cities such as Poznań, Krakow, Gdańsk, Łódź, Bydgoszcz, Szczecin and Olsztyn, but also in smaller centres, where such a gesture is an expression of great courage. Judges from Bytów, Grójec, Lębork, Nakło nad Notecią, Myślibórz, Kościan and Bartoszyce went out in front of the smaller courts. A judge from the District Court in Kętrzyn took a photograph of solidarity with Beata Morawiec on his own.
Citizens also stood before the courts in Warsaw and Przemyśl as a gesture of their support.
Attorneys also joined the campaign, headed by the president of the Supreme Bar Council, Jacek Trela, and the dean of the Regional Bar Council in Warsaw, Mikołaj Pietrzak.
The solidarity campaign is very important, because the Disciplinary Chamber at the Supreme Court will consider the request of the National Prosecutor’s Office to remove Beata Morawiec’s immunity on 12 October 2020.
The Chamber quickly set the date for its consideration, because in accordance with Article 80 para. 2d of the Act on the Structure of Ordinary Courts, it has two weeks for its examination.
Adam Tomczyński will examine the request individually (in the first instance). He was a member of the panel that suspended Judge Paweł Juszczyszyn from Olsztyn and cut his salary.
Before his appointment to the Disciplinary Chamber, Tomczyński was known for praising the PiS government on Twitter.
The criminal charges that a special internal department of the National Public Prosecutor’s Office (appointed to prosecute judges and prosecutors) wants to press against Judge Beata Morawiec have to be approached with great reserve. According to the prosecutor’s office, years ago, the judge was supposed to have taken money for a fictitious expert opinion for the court and accepted a telephone for issuing a favourable judgment. The judge denies this. She even posted the expert opinion that she had written for the court on the internet.
The judges do not believe the allegations. They believe the prosecutor’s office has targeted Morawiec because she is the president of the Themis association of independent judges, which, alongside the Iustitia association of judges, defends the free courts and is a fierce critic of Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro.
Furthermore, Morawiec won a civil action against Ziobro with a non-final judgment for a statement from the Ministry of Justice slandering the judge. The statement was issued after Ziobro’s ministry dismissed Morawiec from the position of president of the Regional Court in Krakow.
The judgment may have humiliated the Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro, because the court ordered him to apologize to the judge. The minister appealed and his appeal in the case is pending.
The National Prosecutor’s Office did not stop at filing a request to remove her immunity. It entered the judge’s home at 6.30 a.m. and took her business laptop under the threat of searching her home.
The prosecutor’s office conducted a raid at Morawiec’s home, even though she is protected by judicial immunity.
According to lawyers, including the former president of the Constitutional Tribunal and former Commissioner for Human Rights, Prof. Andrzej Zoll, the prosecutor’s office did this illegally.
This is why judges throughout Poland went out in front of the courts to show that they support Judge Morawiec. Support for the judge is important so that she can see that she is not alone when facing Zbigniew Ziobro’s prosecution service.
‘This means that people can see what a cheek all this is, what harm is being done to a person who is uncomfortable for the authorities. I hold on every day, stand fast, like some Rejtan, without tears in my eyes, but when I saw these photographs [from the Solidarity campaign – ed.], tears flowed from my eyes,’ Judge Morawiec confessed in an inteview for OKO.press.
The Disciplinary Chamber will not only be dealing with Judge Morawiec in the coming few days. Several days before the hearing in her case, the Chamber will decide whether to remove the immunity of Judge Igor Tuleya, the symbol of the independent courts.
This will take place on 5 October. The same department of internal affairs of the National Public Prosecutor’s Office wants to remove his immunity. What for? Because it wants to press absurd charges against him for allowing journalists in to the announcement of a ruling that was critical of PiS.
This applied to a judgment in which Tuleya ordered the prosecutor’s office to investigate the voting on the budget in the Sejm’s Column Hall by PiS in December 2016. There were irregularities then; the opposition’s participation in the deliberations was blocked. And Tuleya pointed this out in front of the cameras; the whole of Poland saw this. PiS did not like it. And now the prosecutor’s office has prepared far-fetched charges for allowing journalists into the courtroom when he ordered the investigation into PiS.
However, in the first instance, the Disciplinary Chamber refused the request of the National Public Prosecutor’s Office to remove the immunity. In the justification of this decision, it acknowledged that Tuleya did not break the law by allowing journalists to witness him issuing the judgment. Furthermore, Jacek Wygoda, who adjudicated in the case, ruled that the Constitution guarantees openness of court proceedings to the public.
The prosecutor’s office appealed against this. And a three-person panel of the Disciplinary Chamber will examine this appeal on 5 October: Tomasz Przesławski, Sławomir Niedzielak (rapporteur for the case), and Jarosław Sobutka.
Judge Igor Tuleya, one of most hated by PiS rebellious judges in Poland, is supported by the judiciary. As with Beata Morawiec, the judges also organized solidarity campaigns to express their support for him.