IUSTITIA: Disciplinary Chamber Denies Validity of CJEU Ruling and Intends to Rule upon consent to detain Judge Igor Tuleya
On 21 April 2021, in Warsaw, the politicised Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court will hold a meeting to decide upon consent to detain Judge Igor Tuleya and forcefully bring him to the Prosecutor’s Office. This is another act of negating the validity of the ruling of the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) by the Disciplinary Chamber. In the judgement of 8 April 2020, case C-791/19 Commission v. Poland, the CJEU ordered the suspension of the Disciplinary Chamber’s activity in cases of disciplinary liability of judges.
The proceedings against Judge Tuleya exemplify a gross disregard for the CJEU ruling and European Commission actions. Let us recall that on 9 June, the politicised Disciplinary Chamber ruled once on Tuleya’s immunity. On 24 June 2020, the Polish government submitted explanations to the European Commission in how this action complied with the CJEU ruling. Since then, the European Commission has not requested the CJEU to impose financial penalties. It submitted another complaint regarding interim measures that would suspend the Disciplinary Chamber in all its activities.
The Polish Disciplinary Chamber continues in its activities. On 23 September 2020, the Disciplinary Chamber issued a decision which contained the view that “the CJEU ruling of 19 November 2019, in joined cases C-585/18, C-624/18, and C-625/18, cannot be considered binding under the Polish legal system (link to the decision: http://www.sn.pl/sites/orzecznictwo/OrzeczeniaHTML/ii%20do%2052-20.docx.html).
On 18th November 2020, despite the interim measures and the aboveruling of CJEU, the Disciplinary Chamber decided to waive Judge Igor Tuleya’s immunity and suspended him in his judicial duties, cutting his salary by 25% for the time of suspension.
Judge Igor Tuleya is being prosecuted in connection with a ruling in which he ordered the National Prosecution Office to explain the irregularities during the parliamentary vote in December 2016, committed by MPs of the ruling party.
Iustitia, the largest Polish association of judges, has planned a demonstration supporting Judge Tuleya on 21 April 2021. Iustitia’s representatives will make statements to the media:
Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. in front of the Supreme Court
“The case of Igor Tuleya is to show other judges what will happen to them when they would rule in ways that – for one reason or another – may not suit the ruling party. The plan is for all judges to be afraid that the Disciplinary Chamber will judge them as they do with Igor Tuleya, which will decide on his fate. It would be the politicians’ dream, we will not allow that, we will defend the judges who are subject to repressions. We have appealed for a long time to the European institutions to act, now at last we have another complaint from the European Commission” says the president of Iustitia, Professor Krystian Markiewicz.
“Even if the political power handcuffs Igor Tuleya, he will still be a free judge who has never given in. He is under furious attack, because he’s shown the lies of the politicians” – comments Iustitia’s spokesman Bartłomiej Przymusiński.
Igor Tuleya, b. in 1970, a member of the Association of Polish Judges “Iustitia” and, since 2010, a judge of the Regional Court in Warsaw, rules in criminal cases.
The motion to waive Igor Tuleya’s immunity is related to his ruling on the so-called voting in the Column Hall. Opposition MPs alleged that their access to this hall was hindered.
Judge Tuleya indicated to the National Prosecution Office that it prematurely discontinued the investigation of the case. Tuleya remarked that the investigation materials showed the counting reports had been modified and ordered the National Prosecution Office to assess whether some MPs from the ruling party PiS (Law and Justice) had given false testimony in this case. The court hearing was open to the public. After the decision was announced, the National Prosecution Office headed by the Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro decided to accuse Judge Tuleya of disclosing a secret of the investigation.
On the other hand, the investigation into the voting in the Column Hall was discontinued once more, without a possibility of an appeal to a court.
Currently, the only person prosecuted by the prosecution in connection with this case is the judge who has pointed out irregularities in the operations of the politically managed National Prosecution Office.
Judge Igor Tuleya does not consider the decision of the Disciplinary Chamber to waive his immunity as valid, as it is not a court in the light of the Polish and European law. This chamber was established in its entirety by the so-called neo-National Council of the Judiciary (neo-NCJ).
The neo-NCJ was created solely by the Polish Sejm. The 25-person NCJ now includes 15 judges who mostly received court president appointments by the current Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro. In recent years, the NCJ has not even once defended the independence of the judiciary against political pressure.
The members of the Disciplinary Chamber were appointed in a competition after several minutes of conversation. They are mainly prosecutors and close associates of Zbigniew Ziobro. Other people participating in this competition were deprived of the possibility of appeal. This resulted in a complaint from the European Commission to the CJEU to suspend the operation of the Disciplinary Chamber. However, the Disciplinary Chamber adjudicates in cases to waive immunity and ignores the CJEU ruling. The Disciplinary Chamber’s ruling in Tuleya’s case may be the first political trial of a judge in post-communist Poland
Proceedings conducted by the National Prosecution Office, Department of Internal Affairs
21 April 2021: the Disciplinary Chamber will decide upon a motion from the National Prosecutor’s Office to order detention of Judge Igor Tuleya and forceful bringing him to the prosecutor’s office.
18 November 2020: the Disciplinary Chamber waived the immunity of Judge Igor Tuleya.
16 June 2020: the National Prosecutor’s Office, Department of Internal Affairs, filed a complaint.
9 June 2020: the Disciplinary Chamber declined the motion in a resolution.
14 February 2020: motion to adopt a resolution to waive Tuleya’s immunity by the National Prosecution Office who seeks to charge with the following: “on December 18, 2017, in Warsaw, as a public official, a judge of the District Court in Warsaw, publicly failed to fulfill his official duties by allowing representatives of the mass media to record images and sound during a court session.”
Proceedings against judge Igor Tuleya conducted by Disciplinary Proceedings Representatives Przemysław Radzik and Michał Lasota
29 November 2018: Judge Tuleya is requested to submit “a written statement regarding possible judicial intemperance by causing the District Court in Warsaw request a preliminary ruling from the CJEU.”
8 October 2018: Judge Tuleya is called upon to “submit a written statement regarding his participation in a meeting in Lublin on September 30, 2018.”
8 October 2018: Judge Tuleya is called upon to “submit a written statement regarding his participation in a meeting at the European Solidarity Center in Gdańsk on September 28, 2018.”
21 September 2018: Judge Tuleya is summoned as a witness “in the case of the request of the District Court in Łódź to the CJEU for a preliminary ruling.”
5 September 2018: Judge Tuley is summoned as a witness “in the case of exceeding the freedom of public expression available to a judge during the PolandRock Festival.”
14 August 2018: Judge Tuleya is called upon to submit “a written statement regarding the possible dissemination of investigation information regarding the vote in the Column Hall to the public and without permission.”
9 August 2018: Judge Tuleya is called upon to submit “a written statement regarding the comment for the TV program Fakty po faktach (Facts after facts).