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The unrecognized Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court suspended Kraków judge Maciej Ferk. He did not want to adjudicate with the judges elected by the new NCJ

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On Tuesday, the unrecognized Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court suspended Judge Maciej Ferek from the District Court in Kraków in his official duties. She also decided to cut his salary by half. The information was provided by the press team of the Supreme Court. Ferek is one of 11 Krakow judges who refused to adjudicate in panels that will include judges elected by the new National Council of the Judiciary.

The resolution of the Supreme Court – as Maciej Brzózka from the court’s press team informed – was adopted in a panel of three and chaired by judge Ryszard Witkowski. The composition – as is clear from the list – also included judge Jacek Wygoda and judge Michał Górski.

Krakow judges refused to adjudicate with the nominees of the new National Council of the Judiciary

In September it was reported that 11 Krakow judges refused to adjudicate in panels that will include judges elected by the current National Council of the Judiciary. At the same time, they announced “taking legal measures to avoid defective judgments issued with their participation”. One of them was Judge Ferek.

At the end of October, the judge refused to give an enforcement clause to the judgment issued by the Krakow district court, which became final after the appeal was examined. The reason was supposed to be that the judge was promoted from a regional court to a court of appeal at the request of the National Council of the Judiciary elected in March 2018.

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READ: National Council of the Judiciary removed from the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary

Then, the president of the District Court in Kraków, Dagmara Pawełczyk-Woicka, suspended the judge from performing official duties for a month, arguing that the judge’s behavior “violates the dignity of the Court, and also affects the good of citizens and the legal order in force in the Republic of Poland.”

Pursuant to the Law on the System of Common Courts, “if a judge is detained 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 of the court or the minister justice may order an immediate break in the judge’s duties until the resolution is issued by the disciplinary court, not longer than for a month. “

The president must immediately notify the disciplinary court of such a decision. On the other hand, after such notification, the disciplinary court immediately “issues a resolution suspending the judge from official duties or revokes the order to suspend the performance of these activities”.

Successive judges do not want to adjudicate with persons appointed with the participation of the new National Council of the Judiciary15.09 | Two judges from Olsztyn submitted a declaration to the president of the local District Court that they refused to adjudicate with a judge appointed with the participation of the new National Council of the Judiciary. The court management has announced that it will not take any consequences against them. TVN24

Disciplinary proceedings against judge Maciej Ferk

In early November it was reported that Disciplinary proceedings were initiated against Judge Ferek. They were initiated by Przemysław Radzik, deputy disciplinary spokesman for judges of common courts. There were three cases in which Judge Ferek was the chairman of the panels and, according to the disciplinary officer, violated the dignity of the office in that, by exceeding his powers, he granted himself the competence to examine the legality of the appointment of three other judges.

The information about the suspension of judge Ferek by the Disciplinary Chamber was first reported by the portal wpolityce.pl.

Unrecognized Disciplinary Chamber and CJEU judgments

The Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, in the opinion of many lawyers, constitutionalists and judges, is not a court within the meaning of the law.

In March this year, the European Commission sent a complaint to the Court of Justice of the European Union regarding the actions of the Disciplinary Chamber and requested the imposition of interim measures pending a final judgment.

The EC decided, inter alia, that the continued operation of the Disciplinary Chamber limited the independence of judges in Poland. It is about the application of measures such as the lifting of immunities in criminal cases, suspension of duties or limitation of remuneration violates the independence of judges. According to the Commission, this is a serious blow to the independence of the judiciary across the Union.

On July 14, 2021, the Court of Justice of the EU obliged Poland to immediately suspend the application of national provisions relating to the powers of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court in matters such as lifting the immunities of judges. On July 15, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that the system of disciplinary liability of judges in Poland is not consistent with EU law.

On September 7, the European Commission decided to ask the CJEU to impose financial penalties on Poland for non-compliance with the decision on interim measures. The EC said then that it believed that Poland had not taken all measures necessary to fully implement the Court’s order.

At the end of October, the CJEU informed that Poland – due to the fact that it did not suspend the application of national provisions relating in particular to the powers of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court – was obliged to pay the European Commission a periodic penalty payment of EUR one million per day, counting from the day of delivery of this decision to the date of compliance with the July decision.

READ: One million euros a day for the Disciplinary Chamber. The penalty meter is starting today

The CJEU imposes a million euro fine on Poland for the Disciplinary Chamber.  Report from the TVN24 correspondent, Maciej Sokołowski

The CJEU imposes a million euro fine on Poland for the Disciplinary Chamber. Report from the TVN24 correspondent, Maciej SokołowskiTVN24

In August, Deputy Prime Minister, PiS president Jarosław Kaczyński announced that the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court would be liquidated in the form in which it functions now and “thus the subject of the dispute” with the EU will disappear. In mid-October, in an interview for RMF FM, Kaczyński, speaking about the reform of the judiciary, stated that the Supreme Court would be small, its task would be to organize the judicature, and cassations would be held in large regional courts.

Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro presented on Monday the assumptions of the reform of common courts.

PiS announces changes in the Disciplinary Chamber and the Supreme Court

PiS announces changes in the Disciplinary Chamber and the Supreme CourtTVN24

Doubts about the new National Council of the Judiciary

On October 28, the new National Council of the Judiciary – which dealt, among other things, with the staffing of the unrecognized Disciplinary Chamber – was removed from the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ). The chairman of the network, Filippo Donati, said that the ENCJ “recognized that the Polish National Council of the Judiciary does not uphold the independence of the Polish judiciary, does not defend judges in a way that would be consistent with its declared role as guarantor of the independence of the judiciary.”

Main photo source: TVN24



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