Polish judges resist contested disciplinary action

Six Polish judges were summoned in disciplinary proceedings recently. They all refuse to appear, because this new development is part of a highly controversial and duly contested legal system. Judges for Judges hereby shares their individual statements, as published by the Association of Polish Judges Iustitia.

Małgorzata Stanek

Judges Krystian Markiewicz, Bartłomiej Starosta, Dorota Zabłudowska, Monika Frąckowiak, Katarzyna Kałwak, Monika Ciemięga refused to appear at the summons of disciplinary spokesmen for judges.

Judge Krystian Markiewicz: “As an independent judge, I decided not to appear today at the call of disciplinary spokesmen Schab, Lasota and Radzik as persons who were selected in the political procedure and – as reported in media – participated in a group that harassed me and my relatives. Disciplinary spokesmen Schab, Lasota and Radzik did not take any significant disciplinary actions aimed at investigating the so-called “judges haters gate” at the Ministry of Justice, they did not provide convincing explanations regarding the affair in which they were to be involved. In addition, they breach the law by starting disciplinary actions concerning the behaviour of judges of district and regional courts, which they are not competent to do, and by interrogating witnesses before instituting proceedings – as indicated by legal opinions prepared for the Polish Judges Assiciation Iustitia. Their personal involvement in harassing judges fighting for the rule of law does not guarantee the impartiality of such proceedings. Until the Court of Justice of the EU has resolved the allegations regarding the repressive and political disciplinary system of judges, I will only appear before the court, not persons who perform political functions and harass independent judges. ”

Judge Bartłomiej Starosta: “I oppose the harassment, which consists of addressing subpoenas – written in a hurry, not in accordance with the procedure, sent shortly in advance, and even during a vacation, calls for hearings started for irrational reasons, such as being present at a music festival, participation in mock trials organised for youngsters or Internet-critical entries regarding the activities of the Ministry of Justice. In my opinion, those disciplinary actions are to limit the judges` freedom of speech and public humiliation, regardless of detaching us from the duties of judges. I assure you that despite the harassment I will continue to actively promote the rule of law. I have no doubt that the fate of the Polish judiciary is now at stake. Citizens can be sure that we will not succumb to pressure and defend our independence. ”

Judge Monika Frąckowiak: “I will not appear at the call of disciplinary spokesman, who, as he indicated, are themselves involved in the slandering of judges. Documents from disciplinary proceedings were regularly sent to haters’ accounts on TT, as well as from personal files of judges transferred to spokesmen. Until now, spokesmen have not addressed this issue in public, which may give rise to suspicion that they themselves have made these documents available. ” These circumstances mean that ombudsmen should be excluded from conducting proceedings regarding the haters’ scandal. – Moreover, spokesmen should be heard on possible participation in the procedure disclosed under so-called Piebiak scandal – states. It is significant that in the case in which she was summoned, the spokesmen were not the main suspects but the victims of the hate, she adds.

Judge Katarzyna Kałwak from the Olesno District Court writes in her statement that she received a call from September 9, 2019 to appear on September 20, 2019 as a witness. “The issue of the hearing is hidden from me about what judge I am called to.” According to the rules of the Criminal Procedure Code, when the witness is summoned, he or she should be informed about the subject of the hearing.

Judge Monika Ciemięga stated that she would not appear on this summons, but she would appear on the summons of the deputy disciplinary commissioner acting at the her local regional court and on the summons of the court. – I declare that I am aware of the importance of my decision. However, I am guided by the need to choose between values such as the rule of law and judicial independence, and blind obedience to freely issued imperious acts, which in my opinion reconcile these highest values – she wrote in her statement.

Judge Dorota Zabłudowska wrote that the mere suspicion of the involvement of the Deputy Disciplinary Spokesman Michał Lasota and Przemysław W. Radzik in the extensive discrediting action of judges in the media and on the Twitter platform justifies the belief that until the case is resolved, they do not guarantee proper and impartial disciplinary proceedings.

The meeting of representatives of the judges of the Regional Court in Warsaw on September 12, 2019, dealt with the hate scandal at the Ministry of Justice revealed by the media. In the resolutions adopted, the judges primarily demand a full explanation of the scandal by bodies independent of Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro. According to Warsaw judges, it is necessary that explanatory proceedings are conducted by deputy disciplinary spokesperson operating at regional courts due to the integrity of disciplinary proceedings against judges involved in the organization of a hate campaigns, Krystian Markiewicz, president of the Polish Judges Association Iustitia: “The judges recognized that the activities of Piotr Schab and his deputies – Michał Lasota and Przemysław Radzik – directly breach the independence of judges and harm the good of judiciary’. In their opinion, “they are continuing harassment of judges who do not agree with the actions of politicians violating the independence of the courts.”

On September 18, 2019, a assembly of judges of the Regional Court in Katowice took place, which adopted a resolution in which they expressed support for Krystian Markiewicz and other judges who were victims of hate speech on the part of KastaWatch Twitter profile. The judges condemned the campaign organised by representatives of the executive branch and judges associated with the Ministry of Justice, violating the dignity and good name of judges. The judges added that they were worried by information that the result of an organized group whose members were judges delegated to the Ministry of Justice, members of the National Council for the Judiciary elected by politicians, and presidents of the regional courts in Gliwice and Katowice –recently appointed by the Minister of Justice.

The Israeli Embassy read with great sadness, anxiety and indignation in the press about the anti-Semitic entry of judge Jarosław Dudzicz – member of the National Council the Judiciary. Admittedly, this entry was posted a few years ago, but as you know, this case is still valid. We are sad that this entry has just appeared in Poland – a country that for hundreds of years was the home of the Jewish people and where the memory of the Holocaust is still alive “- writes the embassy in a statement.” Our concern is also the fact that recently it has intensified using anti-Semitic slogans. It is amazing and outrageous to us that the author of this disgusting entry is not an ordinary citizen, but a judge, authority, member of the elite National Council of the Judiciary. By the way, we dare to remind you that anti-Semitic statements are contrary to Polish law and the usual sense of decency. The message that the National Court Register is to assess this anti-Semitic entry of its member, Judge Dudzicz we accept with satisfaction. We are convinced that appropriate legal steps will be taken in this matter, “adds the embassy.

National prosecutor Bogdan Święczkowski said that the proceedings regarding the Judge Jarosław Dudzicz`s internet entries will soon move to the decision-making phase on the direction in which to proceed.