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Supreme Court. Sworn 14 jurors elected by the Senate last fall

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Fourteen judges of the Supreme Court were sworn in on Thursday. They come from among the people elected by the Senate in the fall of last year. Since then, however, there has been a dispute over lay judges whose candidatures were put forward by the Committee for the Defense of Democracy.

In October last year, the Senate elected 30 jurors to the Supreme Court for a second term. The first president of the Supreme Court Małgorzata Manowska first, she took the oath from four jurors who had previously worked in the Supreme Court.

Dispute over taking oaths from jurors

However, since the autumn of last year, there has been a dispute over taking the oath from 26 jurors selected by the Senate, whose candidatures were submitted by the Committee for the Defense of Democracy. At the beginning of February, President Manowska swore in three people from among them, and in mid-March seven more. There were still 16 people waiting to be sworn in.

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More jurors of the Supreme Court sworn in

On Thursday, 14 jurors from this group took the oath. Two people – due to illness and professional circumstances – could not appear at Thursday’s oath.

The first president of the Supreme Court appealed to the Marshal of the Senate

In January, the first president of the Supreme Court appealed to the Marshal of the Senate to consider resuming the vote on the selection of some judges of the Supreme Court due to the fact that, in her opinion, they do not meet the criterion of “impeccable character”. The Marshal of the Senate, Tomasz Grodzki, replied that the Senate had completed its task, and it was legally impossible to question the choice made. He called on Manowska to take the oath from all selected jurors.

The newly elected jurors react to Małgorzata Manowska’s letter. “The allegations against us are baseless”

Asked about this issue at the end of January, President Manowska emphasized in an interview with the Polish Press Agency that taking the oath from jurors is the exclusive competence of the first president of the Supreme Court. As she noted then, she arranges talks with people waiting to be sworn in. – I hope that after these talks, this oath will be able to take place. However, I cannot say whether this will apply to everyone, she added.

“All lay judges of one term should have been sworn jointly”

On Thursday, a statement on behalf of the jurors was read out to journalists in front of the Supreme Court building by one of them, Andrzej Kompa. “We welcome the announcement of taking the oath from 16 jurors who have not yet been sworn in, as well as convening a meeting to appoint the Judicial Council of the Supreme Court of the second term on June 15. We consider these events as proof of the rightness of our actions so far,” the statement reads.

At the same time, they assessed in this statement that “all lay judges of one term should have been sworn in jointly, in one ceremony, before the start of the term, in accordance with applicable law and good practice”. “We will always remember how this procedure looked like and in time, when we are sure that the prosecutor’s office, the courts and the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court, which exercises disciplinary supervision over the Supreme Court judges in this aspect, will operate correctly, then we will of course remind you of the case. There will be no statute of limitations here,” Kompa noted.

Candidates for jurors

Candidates for lay judges of the Supreme Court could be proposed by associations, other social and professional organizations registered under separate provisions, excluding political parties, and at least 100 citizens with active electoral rights. In general, lay judges participate in the Supreme Court in examining extraordinary complaints and disciplinary cases involving, among others, judges. Lay judges are selected by the Senate in an open vote. The participation of lay judges in adjudication by the Supreme Court and their selection by the Senate results from the Act on the Supreme Court in force since April 3, 2018.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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