Polish judges Maciej Ferek of the Regional Court in Kraków and Agnieszka Niklas-Bibik of the Regional Court in Słupsk were suspended, because they refused to recognise decisions made by judges appointed with involvement of the politicised National Council of the Judiciary.
Both suspended judges ruled that challenged decisions could not be regarded as judgements by independent and impartial courts, because the issuing bench contained these so-called ‘neo-judges’. They referred to the well-known October 6th order by the Court of Justice of the European Union, in effect supporting national judges to assess the validity of controversial judicial appointments. The court presidents who issued the suspension orders, have themselves been appointed by Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro of the ruling PiS-party.
Judge Maciej Ferek
Judge Ferek is the first judge to be suspended for this reason after the Polish Constitutional Tribunal tried to prevent such an examination of neo-judges. Although the authorities have been monitoring his docket for at least several months now and files of pending cases have been taken from his office by order of the court president, Judge Ferek shows himself to be combative: ‘It didn’t intimidate me, and I’m sure it didn’t intimidate the other judges either!’
Judge Agnieszka Niklas-Bibik
Judge Niklas-Bibik was suspended by the president of her court, the husband of a prominent neo-NCJ member and himself an appointee in violation of European law. Judge Niklas-Bibik is in turn very active in defence of the rule of law in Poland. She is a member of the Presidium of the Forum of Cooperation of Judges, created by Polish judges to replace politically compromised neo-judges. She is also an author of the first translation to Polish of the groundbreaking European Court of Human Rights judgement in the case of Reczkowicz v. Poland.