Resolution 1 of the Meeting of the Judges of the Court of Appeal in Kraków

Resolution 1

of the Meeting of the Judges of the Court of Appeal in Kraków

passed on 28 May 2018

 

Further to the information on the unlawful acts of a repressive nature, to which the former President of the Court of Appeal in Kraków, Krzysztof Sobierajski, was subjected at the Prison in Rzeszów, the judges of the Court of Appeal in Kraków express their decided objection to these practices.

The judges have not been issuing statements to date and have not been taking a stance in connection with the criminal proceedings in which allegations were raised of misappropriations conducted at the Court of Appeal in Kraków to the detriment of the state budget, accepting that the appropriately appointed authorities are responsible for clarifying the allegations, while the legitimacy of the charges may only be verified by a sovereign and independent court. We acknowledged that it was appropriate to refrain from commenting on the matter, even though the detention and arrest of the Court’s employees, as well as the pressing of charges against the former President of the Court were taken advantage of by politicians, including primarily the Minister of Justice, to groundlessly disavow the judges and the court authorities. The statements of the National Prosecutor and the Minister of Justice – Prosecutor General on handling an investigation against “several judges” were among those which served this purpose in order to justify the false argument that the criminal proceedings do not apply to the administrative division, which is organizationally subordinated to the Minister of Justice, but to judges.

It should be emphasized that the application of particular restrictions with respect to any person deprived of liberty, which are not justified in the factual and procedural situation, should be considered to be degrading and inhumane treatment in the meaning of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Doubts about the legitimacy of the actions taken primarily arise from the fact that they only took place at one of the penitentiary units in which the former President of this Court was staying, at the time the trial was starting and, thirdly, they are inappropriate to his factual status arising from his age, lifestyle to date, health situation and the type of charges raised against him.

We consider the prevention of the Judge from changing clothes and shaving before the trial as a possibility of attempting to create a negative image for him and consequently for the entire Justice Administration and, in this context, we are treating these actions as simply indecent.

We consider the above actions taken against Judge Krzysztof Sobierajski as deliberate, intended to humiliate the Judge, as well as intended to deprecate, intimidate and subordinate the judiciary to the executive authority. They also suit the media campaign against the judges and the judiciary, the evidence of which were the attempts to use the so-called “scandals in the Court of Appeal in Kraków” to justify the unconstitutional structural changes subordinating the courts to the executive authority.

 

Resolution 2

of the Meeting of the Judges of the Regional Court in Kraków

passed on 28 May 2018

 

The judges of the Court of Appeal in Kraków express their support to the judges of the District Courts and judges of the Regional Court of the Kraków Region, who object to the activities of Mrs. Dagmara Pawelczyk–Woicka, who is holding the post of President of the Regional Court.

We share the view that the personnel changes made by the President in the positions of chairpersons of the divisions of the Regional Court and District Court, as well as their deputies were substantively unjustified, but dictated by considerations of ambition.

We note that the decisions made in this respect disrupt the work of the courts and pose a risk to their proper functioning. This arises from the dismissal of functional staff without appointing their successors, as well as nominating people as their successors who have not demonstrated that they have sufficient competence and authority to hold managerial positions in their method of working to date.

The attempts to exert pressure on the judges by threatening them with disciplinary proceedings to force them to resign from their function or force them to take up specific posts gives rise to decided objection. These activities, involving addressing demands to the judges to publicly apologise to the President should be assessed as being completely groundless and inappropriate to the gravity of the post held.

The activities of the President related to obstructing the functioning of the Court’s collegiate bodies – the Assembly of Representatives of the Judges of the Krakow Region and the Council of the Regional Court – are incomprehensible and unlawful.

The President’s restrictions on media access to the court building and prohibitions to make video recordings of “areas of the building where the courtroom management staff offices are located, i.e. the offices and secretariats of the President, Vice-Presidents and Director”, as well as regarding the consent of the President of the Regional Court for a judge to grant an interview or make a statement in the court should be considered a threat to constitutional values.

These and other actions of the President cast doubts over her competence in holding her office.

We notice a high level of involvement of Ms. Dagmara Pawelczyk–Woicka in actions that we have repeatedly assessed as being in breach of the values that constitute the ethos of a judge’s profession. These decisions of the President are unequivocally a part of the process of limiting the sovereignty of the courts and the independence of the judges.

Notwithstanding the above, the President’s decisions demonstrate her inability to take up cooperation to ensure the correct functioning of the courts and the good of the justice administration.

 

Resolution 3

of the Meeting of the Judges of the Regional Court in Kraków

passed on 28 May 2018

 

The judges of the Court of Appeal in Kraków once again express their disapproval of the activities of people practicing the profession of a judge, who are members of the National Council of the Judiciary in an unconstitutional membership.

We uphold the previously declared reservations regarding the constitutionality of the formation of the new National Council of the Judiciary. Therefore, and in the light of the election of new judges to the Council by politicians, we do not consider the newly elected members – including Ms. Dagmara Pawełczyk–Woicka and Mr. Paweł Styrna from the Krakow region – to be representatives of the judiciary.

The course of the meeting of the National Council of the Judiciary in the new membership, which was held on 11 May 2018, indisputably confirms the concerns about the Council exercising its constitutional duties. Fundamental doubts arise as to whether the National Council of the Judiciary is currently guarding the sovereignty of the courts and the independence of the judges. The course of the meeting and the content of the statements of the members of the National Council of the Judiciary raises the concern that the primary objective of its activities will be the repression of judges and associations of judges that uphold constitutional values.

During the meeting of the National Council of the Judiciary of 11 May 2018, it was announced that disciplinary measures would be taken against specific judges for their public statements in defence of constitutional values, which the Ethics Committee and the Disciplinary Commission that were appointed within the National Council of the Judiciary are to address. The judges of the Court of Appeal in Kraków express their unambiguous support for judges Waldemar Żurek and Igor Tuleyi mentioned in this context.

We express our conviction that there are no grounds for formulating allegations of improper conduct with respect to Judge Waldemar Żurek. The judge’s public activity arose from the performance of his statutory duties related to his membership of the National Council of the Judiciary and exercising the function of spokesperson of the National Council of the Judiciary.

The judge’s statements from July 2017 have already been assessed by the Deputy Disciplinary Representative for the Kraków Court of Appeal and, in a thoroughly justified position of 31 August 2017, the Representative did not find any faults in Judge Zurek’s attitude arising from the form and content of his public appearances. It should be emphasized that this assessment was not questioned by entities authorized to do so.

We consider the attempts announced to “clean up the courts” using disciplinary proceedings as attempts to intimidate the judges and interfere with the freedom of expression, as well as and a manifestation of the threat to the sovereignty of the courts and the independence of the judges.

We declare that, in the situation where disciplinary charges are raised against Judge Waldemar Żurek as a result of his public activity to date, such accusations should be raised on all of us. The judges of the Court of Appeal in Kraków declare that they fully agree with the content of Judge Żurek’s public appearances. The judge spoke on our behalf as our representative, formulating content in line with our conviction.

 

Resolution 4

of the Meeting of the Judges of the Regional Court in Kraków

passed on 28 May 2018

 

We obligate the President of the Court of Appeal in Kraków to post the resolutions passed at the Meeting of Judges of the Court of Appeal in Kraków on 28 May 2018 on the Court’s website and to forward them to the President of the Republic of Poland, the Minister of Justice, the Polish Ombudsman, the Chairperson of the National Council of the Judiciary, the First President of the Supreme Court and the Presidents of the Appeal and Regional Courts.

We simultaneously authorize the associations of judges to publicize the content of the above resolutions.