Judges Adam Synakiewicz and Marta Pilśnik were removed from official duties by the Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro. Both in their judgments referred to judgments of EU courts. Now, the Ombudsman, Marcin Wiącek, is demanding explanations from Ziobro in this matter. In the opinion of the Ombudsman, the breaks ordered by the minister in the duties of judges were issued in breach of one of the articles of the Law on the System of Common Courts.
Judges Adam Synakiewicz and Marta Pilśnik have recently been suspended from their duties by the Minister of Justice and Prosecutor General Zbigniew Ziobro. In both cases, these are judges who in their rulings referred to the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union or the European Court of Human Rights. Now, Marcin Wiącek, the Ombudsman for Civil Law, spoke about these judges.
Commissioner for Human Rights in the case of judges Adam Synakiewicz and Marta Pilśnik
As explained in the information on the Ombudsman’s website, “Adam Synakiewicz, a judge of the District Court in Częstochowa, decided to examine the legality of the appointment of the judge who ruled in the first instance and was appointed to this office with the participation of the new National Council of the Judiciary. He referred to the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union. European Union and the European Court of Human Rights “.
“In her ruling, judge of the District Court for Warszawa-Śródmieście, Marta Pilśnik, applied the judgment of the Court of Justice of the EU and on this basis lifted the arrest of a prosecutor accused of corruption” – added.
Presenting the background of the case, the Ombudsman recalled that “pursuant to Art. 130 of the Law on the System of Common Courts, the Minister of Justice ordered a break in the service activities of both judges”.
As we read on the Ombudsman’s website, “in accordance with this provision, if a judge was arrested due to being caught red-handed in committing an intentional crime, or if, due to the type of act committed by the judge, the seriousness of the court or important interests of the service require his immediate removal from the performance of official duties, the president a court or the Minister of Justice may order an immediate break in the performance of a judge until the resolution is issued by the disciplinary court, not longer than for a month “.
Ombudsman: ordering a break in activities only after meeting the prerequisites
As it was emphasized, in the judgment of January 2009, the Constitutional Tribunal stated that this provision was constitutional, at the same time emphasizing that it only provides for an “emergency” procedure, and the order for a break in professional activities may be issued after the above-mentioned conditions are met.
“The first one involves detaining a judge in the act of committing an intentional crime. A quick decision of the president of the court or a minister is a subsequent decision that temporarily puts the situation in order, which is of great importance, inter alia, for specific proceedings conducted by this judge” – explained the Commissioner for Human Rights.
“The second premise concerns proving that due to the type of the judge’s act, the seriousness of the court or the vital interests of the service required his immediate removal from his duties. As it results from the judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal, the emphasis is therefore on non-substantive premises, unrelated to specific proceedings that a given judge conducts. , however, with a qualitative caliber that would invalidate the real right of the parties to a court “- the Commissioner for Human Rights reported.
“From the point of view of the possibility of the application of Art. 130 of the Law on Administrative Procedure by the Minister of Justice, the content of a court decision and its accuracy – which can only be verified in relevant court procedures – are legally irrelevant circumstances. These circumstances cannot, under any circumstances, constitute the basis for or the reason for the application of Art. 130 of the Pusp by the Minister of Justice “- we read.
The Commissioner for Human Rights calls on Ziobro to explain
In the opinion of the Commissioner for Human Rights, the prerequisites for ordering a break in activities against a judge were not met in this case. “Thus, the interruptions in their official activities ordered by the minister were issued in breach of this provision,” we read.
The Ombudsman therefore asked Ziobra to explain the matter within seven days.
On his website, the Commissioner for Human Rights published the entire letter addressed to the head of the Ministry of Justice. He explained that members of the Standing Presidium of the Judicial Cooperation Forum had asked him to take action on this matter.
Judges Synakiewicz and Pilśnik removed from official duties
Judge Adam Synakiewicz from the District Court in Częstochowa got hit seven disciplinary charges, which Przemysław Radzik, deputy disciplinary spokesman for judges of common courts, imposed on him for the judgments of July and August 2021. Synakiewicz questioned the composition of the court with the participation of judges promoted at the request of the current – politicized according to many by the system of electing its members – the National Council of the Judiciary.
– In my opinion, the court in which I adjudicated was an unduly served court as defined by the European Court of Human Rights, as well as the Court of Justice of the European Union – Synakiewicz later explained.
At the beginning of September, the minister Ziobro removed the judge from performing his official duties.
In mid-September, Judge Marta Pilśnik from the District Court for Warsaw-Śródmieście was also removed for a month. In August, she released prosecutor Andrzej Z., accused of corruption and obstruction of his own investigation, from arrest. The judge found that the permission of the Disciplinary Chamber, not recognized by the Supreme Court, to prosecute a prosecutor “is not effective”.
Judgment of the CJEU in the case of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, which is not recognized
In her judgment, the judge applied the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 15 July. The CJEU ruled that the system of disciplinary liability of judges in Poland is not consistent with EU law. The day before, the CJEU obliged Poland to suspend the application of the provisions concerning, in particular, the powers of the Disciplinary Chamber not recognized by the Supreme Court – which, according to many lawyers, constitutionalists and judges, is not a court within the meaning of the law – also in matters of, for example, lifting judicial immunities.
The first president of the Supreme Court, Małgorzata Manowska, later issued regulations in which she partially froze the work of the chamber. This concerned matters that would affect it. With the pending cases, Manowska ordered that the judges assigned to these cases should consider abstaining from adjudication.
Despite this verdict, the Disciplinary Chamber still rules. A week ago decided to lift immunity Judge Marek Pietruszyński.
In mid-August, in response to the Polish government’s response to the European Commission regarding the Disciplinary Chamber, it was written that Poland would continue reforms of the judiciary, also in the areas of judges’ responsibility.
At the beginning of September, the European Commission informed that it had decided to ask the CJEU to impose financial penalties on Poland for failure to comply with the decision on interim measures of 14 July.
Main photo source: PAP / Wojciech Olkuśnik