The controversial Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court of Poland has scheduled an unprecedented hearing: Judge Igor Tuleya stands to lose his immunity and his freedom. The Polish Judges Association Iustitia calls on the public to stand up in defense of judicial independence on June 8th, the day before the hearing.
The president of the International Association of Judges has also issued an official statement, representing 92 national associations of judges expressing their deepest concern about these proceedings.
The so-called Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court of Poland wants to revoke Judge Tuleya’s immunity, and punish him for passing a ruling allowing investigation of a possible breach of procedural rules during a vote on the floor in Parliament, and for allowing the press access to the ruling, to the embarrassment of the ruling party in Poland, PiS. The unprecedented hearing of Judge Tuleya’s case is scheduled for 9 June 2020 at 9:00.
How has this come to pass? Judge Małgorzata Manowska has just been selected as First President of the Supreme Court of Poland. She was nominated as Judge to the Supreme Court, as were all the judges now presiding in the Disciplinary Chamber, by the National Council for the Judiciary. The independence of the National Council is questioned by the Court of Justice EU in ruling of 19 November 2019 (cases C-585/18, C-624/18 and C-625/18). Her appointment as First President was carried out in violation of the Polish Constitution as interpreted by the Constitutional Court of Poland (case K 44/16) .
She has allowed the Disciplinary Chamber to persecute Judge Tuleya in violation both of binding provisions of the Court of Justice of the EU in Luxembourg of 8 April 2020 (case C-791/19 R), which ordered the Disciplinary Chamber to halt its disciplinary activities, and of the resolution of the combined Civil, Criminal and Labor Chambers of the Supreme Court of Poland of 23 January 2020 (case BSA I-4110-1 / 20).
The Disciplinary Chamber is not recognized as a court, and is used as a political tool to subdue judges. The waiver of the immunity of a judge may have far-reaching personal consequences for the judge in question, who risks losing his or her job and a three year in jail sentence. Worse is the fear induced in all judges that a ruling contrary to interest of the executive, the legislative, or an incumbent party, may lead to reprisals of this kind. The risk of such reprisal is obvious when we consider that in Poland the office of Prosecutor General is in the hands of the Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro, who has been extraordinarily active in his pursuit of defiant judges.
Our protest is important because Judge Igor Tuleya is the first judge who can lose his immunity and, consequently, his freedom. It will depend on our hard opposition whether subsequent judges such as Waldemar Żurek, Krystian Markiewicz, Paweł Juszczyszyn, Piotr Gąciarek, and Dorota Zabłudowska will suffer similar persecution for defending the independence of the judiciary.
Independent judges are no longer allowed to fight for the independence of the courts according to the unconstitutional provisions of the shameful “muzzle law”, approved by Parliament 23 January 2020, which is also subject to infringement proceedings by the European Commission since 29 April 2020. They may not, inter alia, rule on faulty appointments of judges and assessors, and all requests by parties to exclude judges appointed by the National Council for the Judiciary go to the Chamber of Extraordinary Control and Public Affairs which is itself 100% staffed by judges appointed by the very same National Council. In this way the circle of legal absurdity closes.
Let’s stand as a wall behind them. Right now we are not merely important. We may be their only line of defense. Only we, citizens committed to democratic society, can break this vicious circle and stop the political dance around the courts. We must strongly and seriously protest against PiS’s destruction of democracy and rule of law in Poland. Therefore, the day before the trial of Judge Igor Tuleya, let us stand up in defense of judicial independence and independence of the courts.
10 x 10 Today Tuleya – Tomorrow You
10 cities in 10 countries
Let’s make a wall behind Judge Igor Tuleya, together with our fellow European citizens in Poland