“Wholesale” disciplinary proceedings for Judge Żurek. Two hearings in one day
Magdalena Gałczyńska, Onet portal, 3 July 2020
Two disciplinary hearings for Judge Waldemar Żurek will be held at the Court of Appeal in Katowice on Friday, 3 July. Each of them applies to different charges which the disciplinary commissioners have brought against the judge. Only eight people will be able to enter the courtroom each time as the public. The hearings will be held one after the other. Such an order was issued by the president of the Katowice Court of Appeal – Witold Mazur, nominated by Zbigniew Ziobro, privately, the brother of the head of the new NCJ.
- “This is what the activities of the regime involve, to torment people who oppose it. I will soon have so many disciplinary cases that I will be unable to keep up with them,” such a ‘wholesale’ organization of two hearings in one day is assessed by Judge Żurek in an interview with Onet.
- He points out that limiting the number of people in the public to eight is ‘exceptional comfort for the disciplinary commissioners.’
- “It is always better to work without an audience, namely without control. Whereas my right to a public hearing is limited,” emphasizes the judge.
- The press officer of the Katowice Court of Appeal, Judge Robert Kirejew, explains that the president’s order to limit the number of people in the courtroom is related to the coronavirus pandemic and it cannot be withdrawn. People who want to be in the courtroom have to apply for special entry tickets in advance.
- “This is unpleasant for me, because every court hearing should, in principle, be accompanied by openness. Unfortunately, I cannot do anything about it,” says the Katowice Court of Appeal press officer.
Judge Waldemar Żurek is a former press officer for the National Council of the Judiciary, whose term of office was interrupted in December 2017, when the Sejm elected 15 new members of the Council with the votes of the Law and Justice and Kukiz’15 MPs.
Since PiS started to implement its changes in the judiciary, Judge Żurek has openly protested against what he claims to be its appropriation and politicization. Consequently, he was repressed: he was examined by the Central Anticorruption Bureau and the tax office, he was forcibly transferred to another division at the Kraków Regional Court, he has four disciplinary cases and two clarification proceedings have been initiated, which can also result in charges being pressed.
The first of the Friday hearings applies to allegations related to the forced transfer of Judge Żurek to another division and his alleged failure to appear at the new place of work. The next ones are about the judge’s statements about Kamila Zaradkiewicz – Żurek questioned the legality of his appointment to the Supreme Court.
Both hearings will be held with just a two-hour interval.
“So many proceedings have been initiated against me that the commissioners can no longer handle this, they have to accumulate them,” this is how Judge Żurek comments in an interview with Onet. “This is what the activities of the regime involve, to torment people who oppose that regime. I will almost certainly have so many cases that I won’t be able to arrive at them,” he says.
The judge is very critical of the fact that only eight people from the public will be allowed into the courtroom. The media and social organizations wishing to observe the hearings are also included in this group.
“I cannot understand why my right to a public hearing is restricted,” emphasizes Judge Żurek.
“After all, a larger courtroom could have been found if the right distance needs to be kept between people because of the threat of the pandemic,” he emphasizes.
“Such a hearing without the participation of the public, namely without control, is exceptionally comfortable for the disciplinary commissioners. It is quite the contrary for me. All the more so that the president of the Katowice Court of Appeal is Judge Witold Mazur, who was nominated by Zbigniew Ziobro and, privately, is the brother of the head of the new NCJ. For that reason alone, he should be extremely flexible and should not make my situation, as an accused, difficult. Meanwhile, it is quite the opposite,” points out Judge Żurek.
Press officer of the Katowice Court of Appeal: personally, I would prefer that the transparency of the hearing is not limited
The fact that only eight people from the public will be able to enter Judge Żurek’s disciplinary hearings on Friday is confirmed by the press officer for the Katowice Court of Appeal, Judge Robert Kirejew in an interview with Onet.
“Unfortunately, that’s how it is. This is due to the epidemic restrictions and the order of the President of the Court of Appeal issued in connection with this. According to it, in order to maintain the correct distance in the courtroom, the number of people present will need to be limited. Added to this, anyone who wants to be in the courtroom has to apply for tickets in advance,” he says.
“The whole of this situation is unpleasant, because it limits the principles of openness, which should accompany every court hearing. Especially those that arouse public interest. Even their partial closure to the public is nothing positive,” he emphasizes. “Just that I can do nothing about it, the president’s order comes from above and cannot be withdrawn.
We ask judge Kirejew what the sense is of closing the court to the public when Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki not only meets with hundreds of people at rallies throughout Poland, but he publicly urges, among others, senior citizens to go to the elections, because, as he claims – “the virus is retreating”. At the same time, the presidential campaign is underway in Poland, and the candidates are meeting with thousands of future voters.
“Madam, I shall honestly say that not every example from above should be followed,” says the press officer of the Katowice Court of Appeal. “We are in Silesia, where the scale of infections is still large and we do not know whether there would be any infections if a large crowd were to gather in the courtroom. Personally, I would prefer that the president’s order regarding the restriction on the number of people is cancelled, but perhaps we should wait until the number of patients in Silesia drops,” judge Kirejew acknowledges.
Link to the original publication in Polish: