Will the convicted supervise the judges in Poland?

Share

Leading journalist and commentator on legal affairs in Poland, a columnist for Polityka weekly. Her latest book ‘Sędziowie mówią. Zamach…

More

In the Ministry of Justice, convicted persons without a higher education degree will be able to supervise courts and judges. An amendment to this end, using the insertion method, has been included in PiS’s draft amendment to the act on misdemeanours.



The public’s attention has been drawn to the fact that the draft amendments to the act on proceedings in misdemeanour cases which have been submitted by a group of MPs from PiS and Solidarna Polska will make it impossible to refuse to accept a fine.

 

If this amendment comes into force, it will be compulsory to accept and pay on-the-spot fines. The only recourse will be to fight in court for recognition that the fine was wrongly levied. ‘In court’, in this case, means that the case might not be heard by a judge, but by a court referendary – that is, an official whose independence cannot be guaranteed.

 

In addition, evidence of guilt need not be presented by the police, the municipal police or whichever other authority that issued the ticket; but the accused, rather, will have to prove their innocence. And all their evidence of innocence must be presented together with the appeal within a seven-day period. After that, nothing more can be added.

 

There are already memes circulating on the internet: ‘Citizen, prove that you didn’t piss in a public place a year ago.’

 

Finally: failing to pay the fine becomes a separate offence, for which another fine can be levied. And so on.

 

The bill has caused public outrage, and lawyers are protesting that the presumption of innocence is being abolished – something which makes the right to a fair trial, including the right to defence, completely illusory.

 

This is a practical implementation of the police state, where the police will pronounce on both guilt and punishment.

 

We will see whether PiS can force through this change. But, as usually happens with them, they are trying to smuggle through something else in this plan.

 

A gift for Ziobro

The Minister of Justice and Prosecutor General Zbigniew Ziobro has given himself a present, thanks to an inconspicuous change to the Civil Service Actm which reads as follows:

 

“In Art. 52 of the Civil Service Act, the current content is marked as para. 1, followed by para. 2 in the following wording: The provision of paragraph, 1 point 1 does not apply to undersecretaries of state in the Ministry of Justice, through whom the Minister of Justice exercises supervision over the activities of the courts.”

 

This paragraph 1, point 1 in Art. 52 of the Civil Service Act looks completely innocent, as it lists which positions are ‘more senior’ in the civil service.

 

It is proposed that the post of undersecretary of state, who is responsible for overseeing the judiciary, should not be classified as such a ‘senior’ position.

 

Special undersecretary

 

The applicants (we can see the hand of Minister Ziobro in this case) have justified this seemingly bizarre idea – of ​​distinguishing the undersecretaries of state dealing with supervision over the judiciary from all the undersecretaries of state in numerous other ministries – by saying that it is a contradiction to the provisions of the act on the system of common courts, which allows a judge to be delegated to the Ministry of Justice.

 

“It is obvious that a judge cannot be a member of the civil service corps at the same time,” they write.

 

First, there is no requirement for an undersecretary to be a judge.

 

Secondly: this contradiction should be resolved by eliminating the delegation of judges to the ministry, something which judicial organisations – including international ones – have long demanded.

 

Delegations for judges offer a lucrative, and thus a corrupt career path, and violate the ‘Chinese wall’ that should separate the judiciary from the executive.

 

The minister can monitor the competence of the judges’ work through visiting judges, who are not paid by the Ministry of Justice for this. Moreover, the minister can supervise the work of judges as administrative units through the directors of courts who are subordinate to him.

 

But the bill states that tan undersecretary of state is no more senior than other officials who supervise the judiciary.

 

Someone with a criminal record

 

However, as a consequence, the undersecretary who supervises the courts may be a person with a criminal record, and need not have higher education.

 

This is because the next, unchanged Art. 53 of the Civil Service Act says that persons holding ‘senior’ positions as listed in Art. 52 must have a university degree and cannot have any previous convictions.

 

So, if you do not hold a ‘senior’ position while supervising judges and the judiciary, you may have a criminal conviction, and you need not even have a high school diploma.

 

In a country where the judges of the Supreme Court or the Constitutional Tribunal may be persons whom statutorily appointed judges have declared incompetent, lacking sufficient experience, who have been subject to disciplinary accusations or have even been disciplinary punished – in such a country, the fact that supervision over courts and judges can be exercised by people who are convicted and who lack higher education, does not seem so strange.

 

However, if we stop being surprised by this, then the link binding us to the standards not even of the rule of law, but even of common sense and a feeling of shame, will be broken.



Author


Leading journalist and commentator on legal affairs in Poland, a columnist for Polityka weekly. Her latest book ‘Sędziowie mówią. Zamach…


More

Published

January 14, 2021

Tags

Supreme CourtDisciplinary ChamberConstitutional Tribunaldisciplinary proceedingsPolandrule of lawZbigniew Ziobrojudicial independenceCourt of Justice of the EUEuropean CommissionNational Council of the JudiciaryjudgesEuropean UnionCourt of JusticeMałgorzata ManowskaAndrzej DudaIgor Tuleyadisciplinary systemCommissioner for Human RightsEuropean Court of Human RightsCJEUMinister of JusticeMateusz MorawieckiJarosław Kaczyńskipresidential electionsjudiciaryAdam Bodnarpreliminary rulingsdemocracyK 3/21muzzle lawHungaryelections 2020Kamil ZaradkiewiczBeata MorawiecFirst President of the Supreme CourtprosecutorsWaldemar Żurekdisciplinary commissionerEuropean Arrest WarrantProsecutor GeneralConstitutionCOVID-19Julia PrzyłębskaPresidentmedia freedomfreedom of expressionCourt of Justice of the European Unioncriminal lawMarek SafjanAleksander StepkowskiOSCEPaweł JuszczyszynNational Public ProsecutorPiotr SchabPrzemysław Radzikcriminal proceedingsPrime Ministerfreedom of assemblyStanisław BiernatExtraordinary Control and Public Affairs ChamberSupreme Administrative Courtconditionality mechanismconditionalityEU budgetCriminal ChamberLaw and JusticeprosecutionNCJMinistry of JusticeNational ProsecutorelectionsWojciech HermelińskiStanisław PiotrowiczAndrzej ZollMałgorzata Gersdorfacting first president of the Supreme CourtOrdo IurisMay 10 2020 electionsBroda and Bojara v Polandmedia independenceAmsterdam District CourtKrzysztof ParchimowiczTHEMISMaciej NawackiEAWmediaimmunityAnna DalkowskaCouncil of Europe2017policeFreedom HouseLech GarlickiEwa ŁętowskaArticle 7Venice CommissionWłodzimierz WróbelPM Mateusz MorawieckiAndrzej StępkaP 7/20Justice FundPiSC-791/19disciplinary liability for judgesNational Electoral CommissionAstradsson v IcelandPiotr PszczółkowskiJarosław WyrembakPegasusGeneral Assembly of the Supreme Court JudgesPresident of PolandPresident of the Republic of PolandJarosław GowinLGBTLGBT ideology free zonesSejmXero Flor w Polsce Sp. z o.o. v. PolandReczkowicz and Others v. PolandIustitiaKrystian MarkiewiczMichał LasotaZuzanna Rudzińska-BluszczSylwia Gregorczyk-AbramdefamationcourtsEwa WrzosekEU law primacyTVPLex Super OmniaAdam TomczyńskiBelgiumNetherlandsBogdan Święczkowskijudcial independencedemocratic backslidingViktor OrbanOLAFdecommunizationNext Generation EUvetoJózef IwulskiLaw on the NCJJustice Defence Committee – KOSrecommendationTeresa Dębowska-RomanowskaKazimierz DziałochaMirosław GranatAdam JamrózStefan JaworskiBiruta Lewaszkiewicz-PetrykowskaWojciech ŁączkowskiHuman Rights CommissionerMarek MazurkiewiczCCBEAndrzej MączyńskiThe Council of Bars and Law Societies of EuropeJanusz NiemcewiczMałgorzata Pyziak- SzafnickaStanisław Rymarpublic opinion pollFerdynand RymarzAndrzej RzeplińskiSupreme Court PresidentJerzy StępieńPiotr TulejaSławomira Wronkowska-JaśkiewiczMirosław WyrzykowskireportBohdan ZdziennickiMarek ZubikDidier ReyndersEuropean ParliamentOKO.pressZiobroMichał LaskowskiMarek PietruszyńskiPiotr Gąciarekhuman rightscorruptionEuropean Association of Judges11 January March in WarsawPaweł FilipekMaciej TaborowskiAdam SynakiewiczBelarusstate of emergencyneo-judgescoronavirusXero Flor v. PolandEU treatiesAgnieszka Niklas-BibikSłupsk Regional CourtMaciej Rutkiewiczresolution of 23 January 2020K 6/21Mirosław WróblewskiCivil ChamberJoanna Misztal-KoneckaLeon Kieresright to protestSławomir JęksaPKWWiktor JoachimkowskiRoman GiertychMariusz Kamińskiinfringment actionsurveillanceEU valuesMichał WośMinistry of FinanceCentral Anti-Corruption BureauENCJJacek SasinErnest Bejdalex NGOThe First President of the Supreme Courtcivil societyMaciej CzajkaRussiaMariusz JałoszewskiIsraelŁukasz Radkeforeign agents lawpolexitNational Recovery PlanK 7/21Dolińska-Ficek and Ozimek v PolandOrganization of Security and Co-operation in EuropeFirst President of the Suprme CourtLGBT free zonesequalityChamber of Extraordinary Verificationhate crimeshate speechcriminal codeGrzęda v PolandŻurek v PolandSobczyńska and Others v PolandRafał Trzaskowskimedia lawPrzemysła RadzikSenateMarcin WarchołElżbieta KarskaMarcin RomanowskiJacek CzaputowiczPrzemysław Czarneklegislative practiceENAZbigniew BoniekOmbudsmanKraśnikNorwayNorwegian fundsNorwegian Ministry of Foreign AffairsMichał WawrykiewiczFree CourtsC-487/19Article 6 ECHRArticle 10 ECHRRegional Court in AmsterdamOpenbaar MinisterieUrsula von der LeyenAK judgmentSimpson judgmentForum Współpracy Sędziówpublic broadcastermutual trustLMIrelandIrena MajcherAmsterdamthe Regional Court in WarsawUnited NationsLeszek MazurMaciej Miterapopulisminterim measuresautocratizationMultiannual Financial Frameworkabortion rulingequal treatmentabortionprotestsfundamental rightsthe NetherlandsDenmarkSwedenFinlandMariusz KrasońCT PresidentGermanyCelmerC354/20 PPUC412/20 PPUAusl 301 AR 104/19Karlsruheact on misdemeanoursCivil Service ActParliamentary Assembly of the Council of EuropeEUWhite Paperlustrationtransitional justice2018Nations in TransitCouncil of the EUmedia taxStanisław Zabłockiadvertising taxmediabezwyboruJacek KurskiKESMAIndex.huTelex.huJelenJózsef SzájerKlubrádióSLAPPLIBE CommitteeStrategic Lawsuits Against Public ParticipationFrans TimmermansGazeta WyborczaUS Department of StatePollitykaBrussels IRome IISwieczkowskiArticle 2Forum shoppingadvocate generalDariusz ZawistowskitransparencyEuropean Economic and Social Committeepress releaseSebastian KaletaRights and Values ProgrammeC-156/21C-157/21C-619/18Marek Piertuszyńskidefamatory statementsWorld Justice Project awardNational Prosecutor’s Officeintimidation of dissentersWojciech SadurskiBogdan ŚwiączkowskiDisicplinary ChamberjudgeTribunal of StatetransferPechOlsztyn courtKochenovPrzemysła CzarnekEvgeni TanchevEducation MinisterFreedom in the WorldKrystyna PawłowiczECJIpsosFrackowiakOlimpia Barańska-Małuszeretirement ageMariusz MuszyńskiAmnesty InternationalHudocŁukasz PiebiakRegional Court in KrakówPiebiak gateKonrad SzymańskiPiotr Bogdanowicztrans-Atlantic valuesPiotr BurasLSOauthoritarian equilibriumlawyersArticle 258Act of 20 December 2019clientelismoligarchic systemRecovery FundEuropean Public Prosecutor's Officerepressive actPolish National FoundationLux VeritatisKoen LenaertsMałgorzata BednarekPiotr WawrzykharrassmentMarian BanaśAlina CzubieniakSupreme Audit OfficeTVNjournalistslexTVNGerard BirgfellerEwa MaciejewskaPolish mediapostal voteKrakówRzeszówDagmara Pawełczyk-Woickaborderpostal vote billprimacy