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Judge Waldemar Żurek was to return to the former department at the District Court in Kraków. It still didn’t happen

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The District Court in Katowice ordered the reinstatement of Judge Waldemar Żurek to work in the 2nd Civil Appeal Department of the District Court in Kraków. Although almost a month and a half have passed since this decision, it has not yet been implemented. Why? The District Court in Kraków said that it would answer our questions within a few days. Judge Żurek himself says that this is proof of lawlessness and the possibility of ignoring inconvenient judgments with impunity.

“This verdict shows that the fight and consistency make sense” – this is how judge Waldemar Żurek commented on the decision that was made on March 3, 2023 in the District Court in Katowice. The decision was favorable – Judge Żurek was to be reinstated to work in the 2nd Civil Appeal Division, where appeals against judgments issued in district courts are heard. He had to stop working in this department in 2018, when the then president of SO in Krakow (nominated by the Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro the judge today is the head of the new National Council of the Judiciary) transferred him to the 1st civil division.

Part of the judiciary community, as well as the judge himself, they considered it a harassment. Now, after five years, he was also right by the District Court in Katowice. Although the judgment is not final, the reinstatement decision was issued as a safeguard before the final decision was announced.

Judge Żurek still has not returned to his former department. – The verdict, which a month ago was a good signal for me, has become proof that we live in a state of lawlessness. The decision of the Katowice court was not liked by the Krakow court and it was simply not implemented – emphasizes Judge Żurek.

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Chronology of the case of Judge Waldemar Żurek

Judge Żurek emphasizes that after the judgment of March 3, 2023, an enforcement clause was issued. – It happened on March 7. However, the District Court in Krakow, instead of implementing the court’s decision, started absurd feigned actions – says Waldemar Żurek.

He says that first, the employer (i.e. the Kraków district court) asked him to present the content of the security issued by the Katowice court. – This alone was absurd, because the District Court in Krakow has insight into the decision of the Katowice court in my case – emphasizes the interlocutor of tvn24.pl.

Then – as the judge says – the District Court in Krakow summoned the judge’s attorney to present documents confirming the power of attorney. This is another absurdity. The District Court in Krakow reacted in this way to the request of my attorney, who called for the execution of the security, which should be executed immediately. It is hard for me to resist the impression that these are feigned actions to make it difficult for me to return to work and ignore the inconvenient decision of another court – comments Żurek.

He emphasizes that after the ruling of the Katowice court, the Board of the District Court was held. “My case was not on the agenda, although it has been a long time since the ruling was issued,” the judge said.

Analyzing the case

A week after the ruling of the Katowice court, the press office of the Kraków court – according to “Gazeta Wyborcza”, which was the first to report the failure to enforce the security – was to report that “the judgment is being analyzed”. With questions about the case of Waldemar Żurek, we contacted the press office of the court and the secretariat of the president. We asked for information as to why the judge was not reinstated to his former position. Representatives of the press office said that the court would refer to them within “a few days”. When we receive the court’s position, we will include it in this article.

The fact that Judge Żurek is still not working in the 2nd Civil Appeals Division has outraged many Krakow judges. They sent an open letter to the president of the District Court in Krakow, in which they point out that the failure to perform the security is proof of “disregard for the applicable legal order, which occurs in a state institution that should guard the observance of the law.” 120 judges signed the letter.

– I thank them very much for their support. We live in a country where signing such a letter is a proof of courage. In Poland, there are instrumental solutions that allow the harassment of people who lean out, who do not like the authorities. Sometimes it’s instant harassment, like throwing a referee Maciej Czajka, who was transferred after 22 years of work from the criminal department to the civil department – says Judge Żurek.

Judge Żurek on the decision of the Katowice court in the case of the hate scandalTVN24

The tvn24.pl interlocutor indicates that there are other methods of influencing rebellious judges. – It’s about overloading them with too much work so that they don’t have a chance to perform their duties on time. Then they are portrayed as bad judges who are unable to perform their duties. This scenario also applies to me. In 2018, I joined a department where there are over 400 cases per judge. In order to defend myself against the repressive apparatus, I often participated in mobbing trials. Soon there will be objections that I work inefficiently – emphasizes Judge Żurek.

“Instant Execution”

Regarding the ruling of March 3, 2023, we contacted Judge Marian Zawała, press officer for civil matters of the District Court in Katowice. He stressed that he had not yet had the opportunity to familiarize himself with the case files of Judge Waldemar Żurek. He stressed, however, that securities issued until a final judgment is issued should, in principle, be enforced immediately.

Żurek: this process was not about me, but about the methods

Żurek: this process was not about me, but about the methodsTVN24

– The decision on the security is appealable. That is, if a decision is not to the liking of one of the parties, it can appeal against it. However, this does not change the fact that a specific action – in this case, reinstatement to the previous position – should take place immediately, the judge said.

He points out that the bailiff is most often responsible for enforcing the court’s decision to secure the security. In the case of Judge Żurek, a designated court is responsible for enforcement – in this case, the District Court for Kraków-Śródmieście.

– Of course, an entity obliged to perform a specific action, for example a representative of a given institution, has the ability to perform the necessary actions, for example, it can request the employee to obtain medical examinations. Only after completing these formalities can the person return to work. However, I make a reservation that there can be no situation where the decision is prolonged due to ill will – says Judge Zawala.

– And what can be done if the procedure is prolonged for no apparent reason?

– Then you can apply to the enforcement court, which will initiate proceedings and investigate why the decision has not been implemented. If there is no reasonable reason for the delay, the court sets a deadline for the execution of the decision. If this does not happen, the head of the institution may be fined up to PLN 15,000. The penalty may be repeated up to PLN 1 million. In this case – if the omission is proven – the president of the District Court in Krakow could be punished – says judge Zawala.

“Conviction of impunity”

Judge Waldemar Żurek points out that the road to punishing the president of the Krakow court will be very long and bumpy.

– He would be punished by the judges who report directly to him. It will end up with subsequent judges excluding themselves from the case due to the fact of dependency. This is probably where the belief in the president’s impunity comes from – says the interlocutor of tvn24.pl.

He emphasizes that – in his opinion – the fact that he has not been reinstated to work may constitute a crime of failure to perform his duties.

– The problem is that the prosecutor’s office is fully dependent on the Minister of Justice. How, then, can one believe in the fairness of investigative actions? – asks judge Żurek.

tvn24.pl, Gazeta Wyborcza

Main photo source: TVN24

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