Position of 12 June 2020.
posted on facebook by Prof. Włodzimierz Wróbel,
judge of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court
The General Assembly of the Judges of the Supreme Court is a special institution that allows the judges of this Court to express their opinions and positions on important matters of the functioning of that Court. The Act calls this assembly the body of judicial self-government. The Act also clearly states that judges are obliged to attend a General Assembly that has been called. The Act also states that resolutions of the General Assembly may be adopted if at least 2/3 of the judges of a given Chamber of the Supreme Court are present.
An unprecedented event in the history of the Supreme Court since 1989 took place today. A group of people appointed as judges to the Disciplinary Chamber and the Chamber of Extraordinary Control and Public Affairs of the SC broke off the deliberations of this body. After the announcement of the General Assembly two weeks ago, they simply took leave (8 of the 12 members of the Disciplinary Chamber) and the current authorities of the Supreme Court agreed to this leave, despite everyone being aware of the planned General Assembly.
The judges of the Supreme Court wanted to hold a debate on the activities of the Disciplinary Chamber and on the passage of judicial decisions by this Chamber, in conflict with the provision of the CJEU’s interim measure prohibiting such actions. The next issue was the assessment of the breaches that took place during the selection of candidates for the office of the First President of the Supreme Court. The judges also mentioned the outrageous statements made to the media by Alexander Stępkowski, who had been appointed press officer of the Supreme Court.
However, Prof. Małgorzata Manowska, who had been appointed First President of the Supreme Court, did not allow this debate, taking the floor from the judges and ending the General Assembly of the Supreme Court Judges after several minutes. She also did not set any date for continuing the assembly. Of particular importance is the fact that, knowing about the absence of the newly appointed judges, whose leave she had to accept as the head of the Supreme Court, she did not change the date of the General Assembly, which she set for Friday, 12 June. It is difficult not to treat such action as the prevention of the body of judicial self-government and the Supreme Court judges from exercising their rights within the General Assembly to express their position on controversial events that had taken place in the Supreme Court in recent weeks. Professor Małgorzata Manowska introduced over a hundred administrative employees and judges to the Supreme Court building, on a public holiday only to inform them that a dozen or so judges had already been granted leave (as can be guessed, sudden and previously unplanned), and therefore the General Assembly would not be held and would be postponed indefinitely. She also did not give any reasons why this Assembly could not be continued the following week. The judges learned that this is also not possible in the coming weeks because of the elections and in the coming months because of the summer holidays and the pandemic. Reference to elections is an argument supporting those who warned of the impact of politics on the Supreme Court. However, the pandemic and the summer holidays did not stop today’s General Assembly from being called.
The mechanism of incapacitation of the collegial bodies of the Supreme Court is progressing. Is the fear of an open discussion in the General Assembly of the Supreme Court Judges and the confrontation with the position of the majority of judges of that Court so strong?
The draft resolutions to be discussed during the cancelled General Assembly are attached. Dozens of Supreme Court judges signed these drafts.
Link to the original publication in Polish: