The first president of the Supreme Court, Małgorzata Manowska, summoned 15 lay judges who refuse to adjudicate with neo-judges to provide explanations. In its resolution, the Council of Lay Judges stated that lay judges “only refrain from illegal activities.” – After receiving expert opinions from legal authorities, we know that all our doubts were right – emphasized Andrzej Kompa, head of the Supreme Court’s Council of Labourers.
According to the deputy spokesman for the Supreme Court, Piotr Falkowski, the presidents of two Chambers of the Supreme Court: Extraordinary Control and Public Affairs and Professional Responsibility asked President Małgorzata Manowska to take action in connection with the refusal to adjudicate by a group of 15 Supreme Court lay judges. Pursuant to the Act, lay judges participate in court sessions in these two chambers.
Therefore, Manowska called on 15 jurors to present their positions on this matter. – I would like to emphasize, however, that the procedure for dismissing a lay judge of the Supreme Court has not been initiated; we can rather talk about explanatory proceedings. Information from the jurors will be received by a designated official, a member of the studies and analyzes office. The idea is that those summoned can present their position and explain why they do not accept their appointment to the adjudicating panels and do not appear on the scheduled dates – explained Falkowski.
Lay judges want to prevent “the problem of inappropriate, improperly selected adjudicating panels”
During Tuesday’s press conference at the Supreme Court, Andrzej Kompa, the chairman of the Supreme Court’s Council of Layers, announced that the Council of Layers had adopted a resolution on the procedure for dismissing 15 lay judges, which stated, among other things, that “lay judges of the Supreme Court of the second term perform their duties in accordance with the law (…), refrained or only refrain from unlawful acts.”
As explained in the resolution, the lay judges’ refraining from adjudicating activities resulted from the desire to “prevent the problem of inappropriate, improperly selected adjudicating panels due to the accidental, incomplete swearing of lay judges appointed by the Senate.”
Kompa: it’s about trying to ironically stick to the principle of a democratic state of law
In an interview with TVN24, Kompa said that the hearing “took place in a good atmosphere.” – Because, as I understand it, both sides are trying not to transfer the worst standards of the Polish-Polish war to this building, but these are two visions of the rule of law that do not see each other the same – he described.
Kompa confirmed that 15 lay judges were subject to the dismissal procedure.
– Since there is no disciplinary liability, there is an appeal procedure for lay judges, so at the request of the presidents of both chambers, the Chamber of Extraordinary Control and Public Affairs and the Chamber of Professional Responsibility, by decision of the first president of the Supreme Court, lay judges were heard in which we had to explain why we refused to adjudicate. in recent months – he explained.
The head of the Supreme Court’s Council of Benchers emphasized that the case “is about an attempt to strictly adhere to the principle of a democratic state of law.”
– At the beginning, for half a year, the first president of the Supreme Court did not swear us in. First, she tried to question all the people who were appointed by the Senate, then she appointed three, then seven, and a dozen or so were still waiting. We then jointly refused to take judicial action until everyone was sworn in, because it would deepen the problem of inappropriate and inappropriate panels – he added.
Then, as he said, the 15 judges were guided by “the resolutions of the Council of Benchers, which did not order, but suggested first waiting for a few months to receive legal expertise.” – Then, when we received expert opinions signed by several dozen outstanding legal authorities, mainly lecturers and law professors, we adopted appropriate methods of dealing with both the problem of the Chambers and the problem of neo-judges – he continued.
“Lay judges neither refuse to administer justice nor evade their duties”
When asked about refraining from adjudicating with the neo-judges, Kompa described that some of the judges “judged conditionally, always submitting a dissenting opinion,” and some refused to adjudicate. – Along the way, numerous applications were submitted for removal from the adjudicating panel, for the exclusion of a judge, and for the exclusion of a lay judge. However, it is difficult for such conclusions to bring results, for example in a Chamber such as the Chamber of Extraordinary Control of Public Affairs, where there are only neo-judges – he noted.
– We now know, having obtained expert opinions from legal authorities, that all our doubts regarding the status of the Chambers, as well as the status of the so-called neo-judges, i.e. those judges elected with the participation of the National Council of the Judiciary, which is inconsistent with the constitution, all our doubts were correct – he emphasized .
Therefore, he concluded, “the Council of lay judges today decided to defend all lay judges.”
– We will do this, both at the stage in the Supreme Court and in the Senate, as well as in the face of public opinion, because lay judges neither refuse to administer justice nor evade their jury duties out of reluctance or laziness, but they do not want to be involved in any illegal activities, and they want to strengthen the rule of law in the Supreme Court, so that the principle of a democratic state of law is respected here, Kompa said.
Dispute over taking the oath from over 20 lay judges
The Senate elected 30 Supreme Court lay judges for the second term in October last year. However, for less than 10 months, there was a dispute over taking the oath from 26 selected lay judges whose candidacies were proposed by the Committee for the Defense of Democracy. The first president of the Supreme Court appealed to the Marshal of the Senate to consider resuming the vote on the selection of some Supreme Court lay judges because, in her opinion, they did not meet the criterion of “impeccable character.” No such resumption took place. Ultimately, the process of swearing in all jurors ended in June.
In October, on the basis of two expert opinions prepared by, among others, Wojciech Sadurski and the team of Agnieszka Bień-Kacała, Ph.D., the Council of lay judges recommended that lay judges refrain from adjudicating with neo-judges of the Supreme Court or request that such a judge be excluded from the panel.
Generally, lay judges participate in the Supreme Court in examining extraordinary complaints and disciplinary cases, among others, of 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: Elzbieta Krzysztof / Shutterstock.com