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Ministry of Justice on the appointment of court presidents and the role of judicial self-government

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The Ministry of Justice issued a communication on the appointment of court presidents. It drew attention to the key role that the judicial self-government should play in this process. Minister Adam Bodnar wants candidates for presidents to be presented by judges’ assemblies. This – according to the ministry – will “shape the relationship of trust between the executive and the judiciary.”

In a statement on Monday, the Ministry of Justice said that it “receives signals from judges from all over Poland regarding irregularities in the functioning of courts, which is caused by the incorrect way of managing them.”

“They indicate a lack of trust between judges adjudicating in a given court and persons acting as presidents or vice-presidents. These signals concern, among others, courts in Warsaw, Kraków and Gorzów Wielkopolski,” it was reported.

The ministry wants to “shape a relationship of trust between the executive and the judiciary”

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Simultaneously Ministry of Justice it was declared that “all signals regarding irregularities in the functioning of the courts will be treated with the utmost seriousness and will be thoroughly analyzed in order to develop appropriate solutions.”

“In a situation in which the path of dismissing the president of the court is chosen – or in the event that the president’s term of office ends due to the passage of time or for other reasons, the Minister of Justice will expect candidates to be presented by the judicial community, acting in the form of general assemblies of judges provided for by law,” the ministry noted in issued statement.

He assured that in this way he wants to “shape the relationship of trust between the executive and the judiciary in the long term, and at the same time implement the best European practices in the selection of people for management positions in the judiciary.”

“Since 2017, the judicial self-government has been omitted in the process of appointing presidents”

As added, in the opinion of the current management of the Ministry of Justice, “since 2017, judicial self-government has been omitted in the process of appointing court presidents, and exclusive competence in this area was granted to the previous Minister of Justice.”

“In many cases, this led to a situation in which the presidents of courts were people without sufficient judicial experience, with a relatively low level of managerial competences, or who did not know the real needs of judges of the courts they had to manage,” said the Ministry of Justice.

It was also assured that “in the opinion of the current Minister of Justice, an efficient judicial self-government should become one of the most important guarantors of the independence of the judiciary in the future.”

Changes of court presidents

At the same time, the Ministry of Justice recalled that, as a result of the withdrawal of the nomination for the president of the Court of Appeal in Szczecin, the general assembly of appeal judges had designated new candidates, from among whom the new president of this court, judge Maciej Żelazowski, was elected.

“Similar procedures are currently underway in several other courts in Poland, including in Lublin and Radom. Last week, the president of the Court of Appeal in Poznań, Mariusz Bartoszek, as well as the vice-presidents of this court, Sylwia Dembska and Przemysław Radzik, were effectively dismissed. Last Thursday the Minister of Justice initiated the procedure for dismissing judge Piotr Schab from the position of president of the Court of Appeal in Warsaw,” it said.

Meanwhile, these changes are criticized by the National Council of the Judiciary. “The Presidium of the National Council of the Judiciary indicates that the dismissal of the president of the District Court in Radom was without legal basis. In a democratic state of law, public authorities can only act on the basis of the law, within the limits of competence resulting from legal norms,” ​​the Presidium of the Council said on Friday. In another statement on Friday, it called on the bodies of the SA in Poznań to hold a meeting of the board again, and on the minister – to ask the board “for a correct opinion on his applications for the dismissal of the president of the SA in Poznań and the vice-presidents of this court.”

Reform of the National Court Register

In mid-January, the head of the Ministry of Justice Adam Bodnar he presented the assumptions for the reform of the National Council of the Judiciary. They provide, among other things, that the judges themselves, with the support of the National Electoral Commission, will elect 15 judges to the Council. The head of the Ministry of Justice then indicated that the goal was for the National Council of the Judiciary to be established as “a body with a new composition that will be able to effectively appoint judges who will not be questioned by international tribunals.”

Main photo source: Dawid Zuchowicz / Agencja Wyborcza.pl



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