Ziobro’s Man won’t forgive the Kraków judges for the poster campaign in defence of the free courts.
Mariusz Jałoszewski, 26 August 2020
Link to the original publication in Polish:
Minister Ziobro’s disciplinary commissioner will prosecute two well-known judges from Krakow for hanging posters in the court containing slogans in defence of the rule of law. The judges will be prosecuted under the law introduced after martial law ended by the authorities of the Polish People’s Republic to prosecute Solidarity activists.
The “famous” deputy disciplinary commissioner for judges, Przemysław Radzik, is taking steps against the judges in Krakow. He has just taken over a case involving two judges known for their defence of the judiciary, namely Dariusz Mazur and Maciej Czajka from the Regional Court in Krakow.
Deputy Commissioner Radzik is taking over their prosecution to make sure that they are charged in a disciplinary court and that they are punished.
Radzik is not taking this case over by accident. Judges Mazur and Czajka are committed to defending free courts. Judge Mazur often appears in the media and criticizes the “good change” – he is the press officer of the “Themis” Judges’ Association. Furthermore, he defends judges and prosecutors who are accused in disciplinary proceedings.
In turn, Judge Czajka was previously in the “Themis” authorities; he also appears at rallies in defence of the courts.
Of importance in this case is that the president of their home court, Dagmara Pawełczyk-Woicka, a nominee of Minister Ziobro, whose classmate she was at school, wants to prosecute them. She is simultaneously a member of the new NCJ.
“Poster scandal” in the police and prosecutor’s office
The case, which was taken over by Deputy Disciplinary Commissioner Przemysław Radzik, applies to the campaign of hanging posters in defence of the rule of law and the defence of Judge Paweł Juszczyszyn. The posters were hung up in a court in Krakow in December 2019. 73 judges from Krakow took part in hanging them up. But only judges Czajka and Mazur are being prosecuted. The authorities of the Krakow regional court did not like the poster campaign.
The court’s director, Piotr Słaby – also nominated by Minister Ziobro – reported the judges to the police, sending them posters, which, after being removed, were “arrested” as evidence. He alleged that the judges did not have the consent of the building administrator to hang up the posters and that they had committed a petty offence under Article 63a of the Petty Offences Code.
This article states: “Whoever posts an announcement, poster, placard, appeal, leaflet, inscription or drawing in a public place not intended for that purpose, or displays it to the public in a different place without the consent of the administrator of that place, shall be subject to the penalty of a restriction of freedom or a fine.”
A provision of the law from the times of the Polish People’s Republic
This provision was introduced by the authorities of the Polish People’s Republic after martial law ended to prosecute Solidarity activists for campaigns with leaflets and posters. Since 1989, it has been used against people destroying the facades of buildings. And now against the street opposition and Krakow judges. We wrote about this in OKO.press:
The police initially took up the case, but then handed it over to the prosecutor’s office, which also did not want to deal with the poster campaign of the judges. The prosecutor’s office referred the case to the court (together with the arrested posters) stating that, at best, it was a disciplinary matter.
The President of the District Court, Dagmara Pawełczyk-Woicka, applied to the deputy disciplinary commissioner at the Court of Appeal in Krakow to prosecute of judges. But only two – Dariusz Mazur and Maciej Czajka.
Ziobro’s ministry and Radzik take steps
Tomasz Szymański, disciplinary commissioner from the Krakow Court of Appeal, refused to handle the case of the poster campaign. He confirmed that the court surveillance recorded how Judges Mazur and Czajka were hanging the posters up. They did not have permission to do so from the president of the court or from the court director.
However, the disciplinary commissioner concluded that their act was not socially damaging and did not infringe the dignity of the judge’s office. Because the content of the posters is related to the evaluation of the current situation of the judiciary expressed by some of the judicial community – including associations of judges. And there is no offensive or inappropriate information on these posters.
Disciplinary Commissioner Tomasz Szymański also acknowledged that presenting views peacefully and without damaging property is not socially harmful. All the more so that judges from Krakow were able to hang similar posters in court in the past. The current president introduced a ban on hanging posters.
Furthermore, the posters were a form of participation by the judges in the public debate on the administration of justice.
This is one of the posters hung in December 2019 in the court by Krakow judges.
However, the justice ministry did not like this decision and raised an objection to it. The president of the court, Pawełczyk-Woicka, who wrote to the ministry on this matter, wanted this. The filing of the objection meant that the Krakow disciplinary commissioner had to reopen the proceedings and formally charge the judges with a disciplinary charge of breaching the dignity of the office of judge. And that happened.
But Tomasz Szymański has yet not finished his proceedings. They could have ended with bringing a case against both judges to a disciplinary court, or another dismissal, which would probably have happened in this case. We wrote about this in OKO.press:
Przemysław Radzik suddenly took over this case from Krakow to handle it himself. Why did he do this? In the decision to take over the case, he wrote that he was doing it “guided by the need to ensure the proper conduct of disciplinary proceedings and the good of the judiciary, given the nature of the case.”
The judges have no doubts that, for Radzik, the “good of the judiciary” means both judges being charged before a disciplinary court. “He took over the case because he is probably afraid that it could be discontinued again in Krakow,” one of the judges tells OKO.press.
Radzik investigates judges wholesale
Taking over the case of Judges Mazur and Czajka, who are committed to defending free courts, is further evidence of the intensification of the activities of Minister Ziobro’s disciplinary commissioner after Andrzej Duda won the presidential elections.
We have already written about judges starting to be prosecuted for signing a letter to the OSCE about the organization of the presidential elections by correspondence. Almost 1,200 judges are threatened with disciplinary proceedings! Radzik is also interested in this matter.
He is also investigating the 10-person management board of the “Iustitia” Judges’ Association wholesale for issuing a statement after the elections negating the Chamber of Extraordinary Control and Public Affairs of the Supreme Court.
Radzik is also investigating 14 judges from the management of the Judges Cooperation Forum which supports repressed judges. We wrote about this in OKO.press:
Taking over the case of the Krakow judges now means that the campaign with the posters in defence of the rule of law has gained a great deal of importance. And Deputy Commissioner Radzik wants to see to it himself, after all, a former friend from Minister Zbigniew Ziobro’s secondary school, namely Dagmara Pawełczyk-Woicka, wants both judges to be prosecuted.
Since she became the president of the Regional Court in Krakow, she has been in a strong conflict with her subordinate judges. She was recently promoted to the regional court by the new NCJ (of which she is herself a member). We wrote about this in OKO.press:
Will Radzik save Nawacki from trouble?
In accordance with the muzzle act passed by PiS in December 2019, Minister Ziobro’s disciplinary commissioners, namely Chief Commissioner Piotr Schab and two of his deputies, can now prosecute all judges of the ordinary courts.
But they had already been taking over disciplinary cases from local commissioners, including those regarding themselves and, recently, the case of Judge Maciej Nawacki. He is a member of the new National Council of the Judiciary and the president of the District Court in Olsztyn, a nominee of Ziobro’s ministry.
Nawacki is known for tearing up draft resolutions of judges from Olsztyn. And he received a disciplinary charge for this from the deputy disciplinary commissioner at the Białystok Court of Appeal.
But the case may end without referring it to a disciplinary court, because, as we revealed in OKO.press, Przemysław Radzik took it away from the Białystok commissioner. We wrote about this in OKO.press: