One and a half thousand judges, prosecutors, legal advisers and attorneys stood up for Judge Joanna Knobel and opposed “unlawful attempts to pressure” the District Court in Poznań. This is the result of a letter sent to the president of the Poznań court by the president of the National Council of the Judiciary, asking for “training in constitutional law” by Judge Knobel, who acquitted the participants of the October 2020 protest in the Poznań cathedral.
On Monday, the District Court of Poznań – Nowe Miasto and Wilda acquitted 32 persons who in October 2020, during a mass in the Poznań cathedral, went out in front of the altar with banners with content related to the right to abortion. Mass was interrupted. This event took place after the judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal tightening anti-abortion regulations. Judge Joanna Knobel reminded in the justification of the judgment that the ruling of the Constitutional Tribunal caused a wave of protests throughout the country.
After the acquittal of the court in Poznań, the head of the National Council of the Judiciary, Dagmara Pawełczyk-Woicka, sent a letter to the president of the District Court in Poznań. The head of the National Council of the Judiciary requested that judge Joanna Knobel be trained in constitutional law.
Letter in defense of Judge Knobel
On Friday, the position of the judges of the District Court in Poznań in connection with the letter of the National Court Register was published on the website of the Forum for Cooperation of Judges. “The judges of the District Court in Poznań express a firm protest against unlawful attempts to pressure the District Court, contained in the letter of the National Council of the Judiciary, addressed to the President of the District Court in Poznań, and containing suggestions to “train” SSR Joanna Knobel in connection with her ruling regarding events in the Poznań cathedral.
The authors of the protest pointed out that the letter of the National Court Register is addressed to a person who is not the direct superior of Judge Knobel, but who is in charge of the court with local and substantive jurisdiction to hear appeals against judgments made in the district court, and thus competent to hear any appeal against the judgment on the events in the cathedral.
They also pointed out that “the arrogant tone of the letter (…) clearly indicates that the body headed by the author of the letter has nothing to do with the institution referred to in Article 186(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland”. The quoted provision states that the National Council of the Judiciary safeguards the independence of the courts and judges.
“At the same time, in connection with the unprecedented hate campaign conducted by some of the media – also financed from our taxes – directed personally at the judge in connection with her ruling and fueled by the Minister of Justice, we want to assure her of our support in this difficult time for her.” – emphasized the authors of the position.
On Thursday, the Minister of Justice, the Prosecutor General Zbigniew Ziobro he assessed that the behavior of the president of the National Court Register, i.e. writing a letter to the court in Poznań, was a defense of the honor of the Polish judiciary. According to Minister Ziobro, “it is the competence of the National Council of the Judiciary to draw attention to certain problems related to the line of jurisprudence that may violate the basic principles of Polish law and the rule of law, including those contained in the constitution and international treaties that oblige Poland to protect freedom religion of all, whether it concerns the followers of Islam, Judaism or Christians. The head of MS also noted that entering the temple and “making a fuss” during the service should be stigmatized.
Over one and a half thousand signatures
“We would like to strongly emphasize that regardless of how anyone assesses the decision made in this or any other case, the correctness of which will be reviewed by the appellate court and which, like any other, may be subject to social judgment, it was issued by an independent court, and judicial independence, understood as a state when a judge decides a case subject only to the law and not to any pressure, especially from the executive, is the last element that distinguishes our state from a dictatorship. our duties, we appeal” – indicated in the position signed by 111 judges of the District Court in Poznań, including the president of the court, Krzysztof Lewandowski.
The position was also supported by over 1.4 thousand. judges, including retired judges, representing common and administrative courts and Supreme Court. Among other things, they signed judge of the CJEU prof. Marek Safjan and retired judges of the Constitutional Tribunal: Piotr Tuleja, Ewa Łętowska and Stanislaw Biernat.
Support was also expressed by 224 prosecutors and several dozen other people, including advocates, legal advisers, people from the world of science and culture.
The organizers reported that “the interest in signing support for the letter has significantly exceeded the technical capacity to accept all applications.”
Protest in the Poznań cathedral
The trial before the Poznań court concerned the events of October 2020, when Constitutional Court ruled that the provision of the Act on family planning, protection of the human fetus and conditions for the admissibility of abortion, which allows abortion in the event of a high probability of severe and irreversible impairment of the fetus or an incurable disease that threatens its life, is unconstitutional. After the verdict was announced, demonstrations against the decision of the Constitutional Tribunal took place in many Polish cities.
A few days after the announcement of the Constitutional Tribunal’s verdict, during a mass in the Poznań cathedral, a group of about 30 people stood in front of the altar with banners with content related to the right to abortion. Mass was interrupted.
Main photo source: PAP/Jakub Kaczmarczyk