The ‘good change’ is going for the Supreme Administrative Court
The current authority will have increasingly greater control over the Supreme Administrative Court, which is at the same level of importance as the Supreme Court. This is because judges and lawyers who have decided to cooperate with the authorities and Minister Ziobro’s ministry are applying for positions in that court.
A dozen or so people close to the ruling camp are applying for 17 vacancies in the Supreme Administrative Court. They include members of the new NCJ, which will decide who will be selected for the Supreme Administrative Court. Maciej Nawacki from Olsztyn, who is known for tearing up resolutions of the Olsztyn judges, for which he heard disciplinary charges, is one of the candidates. The landing of the ‘good change’ in the Supreme Administrative Court was revealed by Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.
Why the Supreme Administrative Court is important
The Supreme Administrative Court has a similar status to the Supreme Court. It is in the media less and is less recognizable among the public. But cases of importance to the citizens and the authorities are heard there. Because it is this court and the voivodship administrative courts subordinated to it which hear complaints from citizens, companies and social organizations against decisions made by officials or ministers.
Voivodship administrative courts check compliance of tax decisions, building permission and decisions regarding restitution, as well as the provision of public information with the provisions of the law. They also check the legality of local government resolutions, pension matters and many other administrative decisions. The Supreme Administrative Court also reviews cassation complaints against judgments of voivodship courts.
The Supreme Administrative Court has now become particularly important, because it is the one that watches the authorities by reviewing administrative decisions. In recent years, the Supreme Administrative Court has been asking questions of the CJEU, requesting a preliminary ruling on issues related to the rule of law, while its judges were involved in the defence of the rule of law, although perhaps not as actively as the judges of the ordinary courts and the Supreme Court.
Administrative courts also issue rulings that are critical of the authorities. The Voivodship Administrative Court in Warsaw recently issued a verdict that was highly publicized and devastating for Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. The court ruled that his order to prepare presidential elections by correspondence was in gross breach of the law.
Furthermore, the Supreme Administrative Court is simply a good place to work, because the status of a Supreme Administrative Court judge means prestige and a high income. It also gives a guarantee of a high pension. That is why lawyers and judges, including those who support the ‘good change’, apply for positions in that court.
Who in the ‘good change’ environment wants to become a Supreme Administrative Court judge
Dziennik Gazeta Prawna revealed that over 100 candidates applied for 17 vacancies in three recruitments that are ongoing before the new NCJ. The candidates include a dozen or so people associated with the ‘good change’ and they have a good chance of winning. These are:
– Maciej Nawacki, member of the new NCJ and president of the District Court in Olsztyn (nominated by Minister Ziobro). His candidacy is surprising because he has just received a nomination from the new NCJ to the Regional Court in Olsztyn, but has not yet been appointed by the President.
Nawacki, as the president of the court, entered into a fierce dispute with independent judges from Olsztyn and pushed for the suspension of Judge Paweł Juszczyszyn, who wanted to check the lists of support for the candidates applying for membership of the new NCJ – including Nawacki – for which he was repressed. Nawacki became known throughout Poland for publicly tearing up resolutions of the Olsztyn local judicial association. He heard disciplinary charges for this from the disciplinary commissioner from Białystok, but the case was quickly taken over by Ziobro’s chief disciplinary commissioner.
– Rafał Sura, who was elected to the Monetary Policy Council with the votes of the PiS Senators, a member of the Tribunal of State in 2015–2016, legal counsel, professor of the Catholic University of Lublin.
– Waldemar Gontarski, attorney at law, who represented the PiS government before the CJEU and took part in the preparation of the presidential elections by correspondence.
– Zbigniew Łupina, judge at the District Court in Biłgoraj, member of the new NCJ.
– Teresa Kurcyusz-Furmanik, judge of the Voivodship Administrative Court in Gliwice, member of the new NCJ. She was the only judge to run for membership of the Council with the support of the citizens.
– Łukasz Piebiak, former deputy minister of justice, district court judge in Warsaw. He was Ziobro’s deputy minister until last year after the outbreak of the hate scandal, in which he was mixed up. As a judge, Piebiak applied many times to the old, legal NCJ for promotion to higher instance courts, but his candidacy was dropped because he had been punished on disciplinary charges. He currently works at the Institute of Justice, which reports to Ziobro’s ministry.
– Rafał Terlecki, President of the Regional Court in Gdańsk, nominated by Minister Ziobro.
– Paweł Mroczkowski, judge of the District Court in Janów Lubelski, signed Maciej Mitera’s (press officer of the new NCJ) list of support for membership of the NCJ. Mroczkowski has been posted to the ministry of justice and is the director of the Civil Law Legislation Department.
– Mirosław Baranowski, judge of the District Court in Zamość. He signed Zbigniew Łupina’s list of support for membership of the new NCJ.
Transfers from the ‘good change’ camp to the Supreme Administrative Court are already in progress
The new NCJ has already filled vacancies in the Supreme Administrative Court. Nominations have already been received by
– Gabriela Zalewska-Radzik, legal counsel and, primarily, wife of Przemysław Radzik, one of the symbols of the ‘good change in the courts.’ It is Radzik, as a disciplinary commissioner, who prosecutes independent judges who defend the free courts. He himself was recently promoted by the new NCJ to the Court of Appeal in Warsaw.
– Anna Dalkowska, judge of the District Court in Gdynia, deputy minister of justice.
– Rafał Stasikowski, judge of the Katowice District Court and former president of the Katowice Regional Court nominated by Ziobro. The President appointed him judge of the Supreme Administrative Court in March 2019.
Like the Supreme Court, the Supreme Administrative Court should be the peak of a judge’s career. The most experienced and talented judges should end up here. Anyone who has opted to cooperate with PiS can get into these courts under the current authority.
This can be seen from the appointments made by the new NCJ. For example, Przemysław Radzik’s wife beat the experienced president of the Voivodship Administrative Court in Białystok by one vote.
There is also no need to go through successive levels of courts in a judicial career to get into the Supreme Administrative Court. This can be seen by the example of Anna Dalkowska, who jumped into the Supreme Administrative Court from the District Court in Gdynia. The fact that she is Ziobro’s deputy minister almost certainly helped. The candidates to the Supreme Administrative Court, who were revealed by Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, also have a good chance of being nominated by the new NCJ.
All the more so that the Council is divided into two groups. One comprises the so-called hawks, namely members of the Council associated with Minister Ziobro and his former deputy, Łukasz Piebiak. The other group is made up of so-called doves, namely members of the Council who want to work independently and critically assess candidates for judicial promotions. This group includes the head of the new NCJ, Leszek Mazur, and the press officer of the new NCJ, Maciej Mitera.
The group of hawks has so far won the voting on the controversial candidates for promotions. It is helped by the fact that Ziobro’s disciplinary commissioner is handling several proceedings against members of the NCJ, and for this reason Leszek Mazur is among those who are excluded from voting.
106 judges ruled in the Supreme Administrative Court in 2019; the target is to be 127 judges.
Translated by Roman Wojtasz