Appeal of the Themis Association of Judges on the 26 August 2019 regarding the so-called “Piebiak scandal”

We express deep indignation at the government propaganda repeated by the Minister of Justice and his subordinate officials involving the presentation of the so-called “Piebiak scandal” as an internal conflict between judges and attributing shared responsibility to the entire judicial environment for the conduct of the people employed by the Ministry of Justice. In fact, a group of officials who served as judges in the past are responsible for this scandal, who abused the judicial oath after joining the Ministry or the politicized body appointed to take the place of the National Council of the Judiciary, as well as Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro, as their superior. It is common knowledge that it was Łukasz Piebiak who informed Zbigniew Ziobro of which candidates should work at the Ministry, who should be appointed to the neo-NCJ, and who should be presidents of courts, whereby these were people without the necessary experience or qualifications, often punished for disciplinary offences in the past, whose only recommendation was absolute loyalty. This position has been repeatedly expressed by the judicial associations. According to the Act on the Law on the Organization of Ordinary Courts, a judge should be “of impeccable character,” while these judges are tarred with the brush of submissive servitude to the executive.

We protest against Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s and Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro’s statements that the dismissal of deputy minister Łukasz Piebiak from his post, as well as dismissal of Judge Jakub Iwaniec from the delegation to the ministry ends the scandal at the Ministry of Justice. We unequivocally assess this as an attempt to “sweep the matter under the carpet.” The Prosecution Office, headed by Zbigniew Ziobro, who is potentially involved in the scandal, has not taken any real action to clarify it to date, even though the electronic devices of the online hater nicknamed “Emi”, which she used to communicate with the employees of the ministry and other members of the “Kasta” (caste) newsgroup, were secured as early as in March this year. In particular, the electronic devices of the ministry’s employees and members of the neo-NCJ involved in the scandal were not secured, the channels used for distributing money and information between these people were not checked and these people were not removed from their posts. All these shortcomings are the direct responsibility of Zbigniew Ziobro, who, by combining the functions of the Minister of Justice and the Prosecutor General, assumed full control over the prosecution office in April 2016. We are deeply convinced that, as long as he holds the role of super-prosecutor, the “Piebiak scandal” will not be clarified.

We consider the neo-KRS’ establishment of detailed rules for judges on communication in the Internet as “pulling the wool over people’s eyes”. The principles of judicial ethics were already codified by the “old” NCJ elected in accordance with the Constitution. The problem is that nothing can replace ordinary human decency and principles of morality. After all, the neo-NCJ, which was elected in a manner that is in breach of Article 187 of the Constitution, and is simultaneously removed from social control (by keeping the lists of support of the judge-members secret) and then compromised by many actions that undermine the independence of the Polish judiciary, as well as the cooperation between four of its members and the online hater Emilia, which was substantiated by the media, has no moral or legal grounds to enact principles of judicial ethics.

We express the view that the presence of people contacting the online hater nicknamed Emi, or participation in the “Kasta” newsgroup inspiring the activity of online haters, including 4 members of the neo-NCJ (Jarosław Dudzicz, Dariusz Drajewicz, Maciej Nawacki and Maciej Mitera), 2 deputies of the Disciplinary Commissioner of Judges of the Ordinary Courts (Michał Lasota and Przemysław Radzik), as well as one of the judges of the new Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court (Konrad Wytrykowski,) confirms the argument that the most important new institutions created under the so-called “great reform” of the justice system are politically corrupt and morally compromised.

We would like to draw the attention of the public to the fact that the slanderous online campaign against judges coordinated by employees of the Ministry of Justice could carry out the hallmarks of a number of types of crime, including the overstepping of powers by public officials (Article 231 of the Penal Code), stalking (Article 190a § 1 of the Penal Code), disclosure of information on criminal and disciplinary proceedings (Article 266 § 2 of the Penal Code), insulting a public official (Article 226 § 1 of the Penal Code, and with respect to the First President of the Supreme Court also Article 226 § 3 of the Penal Code), slander in the mass media (Article 212 § 2 of the Penal Code), illegal personal data processing (Article 107, para. 1) of the Personal Data Protection Act) and perhaps even operating within an organized criminal group (Article 258 § 1 of the Penal Code). The degree of social harm of the deeds described is even greater because, although they were targeted at individual judges, as a whole, their intention was to change the constitutional system of the state by subordinating the judicial authority to executive, and they were performed by public officials at the highest levels of executive power. An extensive investigation need to be conducted to clarify the matter, after previously removing those, who are potentially interested in covering up the crimes, from the ability to influence its course.

Given the above, we demand:

the Minister of Justice – Prosecutor General Zbigniew Ziobro to resign – which is necessary for the impartial clarification of this scandal. We strongly emphasize that our appeal is not related to the party or political affiliation of the Minister of Justice. As Judges, we safeguard compliance with the law and ensure that the judiciary can operate in conditions that are suitable for countries belonging to the European family of democratic states governed by the rule of law;

the neo-NCJ to immediately suspend its activities, including giving opinions on candidates to the Supreme Court, until its status is clarified by the Court of Justice of the EU, as well as clarifying the connections of its members, Jarosław Dudzicz, Maciej Nawacki, Dariusz Drajewicz and Maciej Mitera, with the activities of the online hater, Emilia, especially in connection with the suspected illegal influence on the judicial nomination process;

to dissolve the so-called “Piebiak special group” appointed by order of the Minister of Justice, Zbigniew Ziobro, of 10 September 2018, which is a tool for direct political control over disciplinary proceedings against judges, which included 9 people, of whom 6 were supposed to organize the smear campaign against judges within the “Kasta” newsgroup (Łukasz Piebiak, Jarosław Dudzicz, Tomasz Szmydt, Michał Lasota, Przemysław Radzik and Arkadiusz Cichocki) and simultaneously include this group’s activity in the prosecutor’s investigation;

the prosecution office to immediately secure the electronic devices of the officials of the Ministry of Justice, Deputy Disciplinary Commissioner of the Judges of the Ordinary Courts and the members of the neo-NCJ who, according to media reports, are involved in the “Piebiak scandal”;

the prosecution office to clarify the financial flows of the above people to establish the sources of financing of the activities of the online haters targeted at the judges;

the prosecution office to clarify the possible links between the KastaWatch website and officials of the Ministry of Justice, the Disciplinary Commissioner of the Judges of the Ordinary Courts and his deputies, as well as the newly appointed presidents of the courts; the possibility of such connections arises from the fact that this website unlawfully has documentation and information from disciplinary proceedings and the personal files of judges and then disseminates this information in breach of the personal data protection regulations;

the institution of disciplinary proceedings and the immediate suspension of Judges Łukasz Piebiak, Arkadiusz Cichocki, Jakub Iwaniec and Tomasz Szmydt, as well as other members of the “Kasta” discussion group operating via whatsapp, whose connections with the online hater nicknamed “Emi” have been highly substantiated (including the deputies of the Disciplinary Spokesman Commissioner for the Judges of the Ordinary Courts, Michał Lasota and Przemysław Radzik) in the performance of their official duties, pursuant to Article 129 § 1 of the Act on the Organization of the Ordinary Courts;

the Polish parliament to set up a parliamentary inquiry commission to clarify the so-called Piebiak scandal; after changes made over the last four years that have subordinated the law enforcement agencies to the political factor, such a commission is the only body that can clarify the background to the scandal in a potentially impartial manner;

We would like to point out that this list only contains the most basic activities, which appear necessary in the light of the current media information. Their omission, which would be synonymous with the approval of the executive power at the highest level of such activities, will mean that the chances of a full explanation of the so-called “Piebiak scandal” may be irretrievably lost.

We would like to point out to the Polish citizens that the continuation of similar activities could soon lead to the total subordination of the judiciary to the executive, which means that Poland will continue to move towards the model of authoritarian power, in which the people exercising real power are untouchable, while civil rights and freedoms are systematically being restricted. The method of acting in accordance with the principle of ‘the end justifies the means’ currently being applied to defiant judges can affect every citizen in the near future.