‘Iustitia’ is running a media campaign, Judge Krystian Markiewicz is saying various things that send shivers down the spines of professionals. The purpose of this campaign is to exert pressure on politicians and tame public opinion. As a result, it is intended to lead to the removal of all judges who don’t fit their criteria for various reasons. This has nothing to do with the rule of law,’ says Piotr Skrzyszowski, President of the District Court for Krakow – Śródmieście, Judge of the Regional Court in Krakow, and Chairman of the ‘Judges of Poland’ association. He adds that the chaos caused by the collapse of the judiciary will only benefit criminals and opportunists.
Almost everything will change in the National Council of the Judiciary
The Polish Press Agency asked Judge Krystian Markiewicz, President of the largest Polish judges’ association Iustitia, about the proposed legislative solutions regarding the judiciary.
Judge Markiewicz informed that the organization is finalizing work on two extensive draft laws: one concerning the National Council of the Judiciary and the other concerning common courts. These, in his opinion, will lead to shorter court proceedings and restore real access to justice in Poland. ‘We have projects on the table, we have knowledge and experience, we are ready to cooperate with the new Minister of Justice and the President. It’s time to end makeshift solutions and build modern courts,’ said Markiewicz.
Among the changes proposed by Iustitia is a profound reform of the National Council of the Judiciary. ‘Almost everything will change in the National Council of the Judiciary. We propose a democratic and self-governing selection of judges-members of the Council by judges themselves. Other entities should also be able to nominate candidates for judges-members of the Council. We want every judge in Poland to have a say in the representation of judges in the Council. This will be a new quality,’ said Markiewicz.
Verification of judges and expanding the powers of the National Council of the Judiciary
He emphasized that Iustitia’s projects also include the verification of judges appointed by the current National Council of the Judiciary. He clarified that the appointments of so-called young judges, or assessors who became judges, will remain valid. ‘However, regarding those who decided to use the unconstitutional organ, neo-National Council of the Judiciary, for their professional advancement, they will return to their previous positions. Importantly, this does not mean that the decisions issued by these individuals will lose their validity. They will remain valid,’ he said.
Iustitia’s proposals also include expanding the powers of the National Council of the Judiciary. ‘In addition to appointing judges, the National Council of the Judiciary will also supervise the work of courts, which it will do together with the presidents of the courts. This means excluding this supervision from the competence of the Minister of Justice. This is a European standard,’ said Markiewicz.
Markiewicz pointed out that Iustitia’s proposals also concern changes in the Supreme Court. According to them, judges of the Supreme Court appointed by the current National Council of the Judiciary will lose their positions, and the Professional Responsibility Chamber and the Extraordinary Control and Public Affairs Chamber, established in recent years, will be abolished. ‘These two Chambers were created in a completely illegal manner, so they need to be removed from the Supreme Court,’ he said.
Blatantly contradicting the constitution
Piotr Skrzyszowski, Chairman of the All-Poland Association of Judges – ‘Judges of Poland,’ President of the District Court, and Judge of the Regional Court in Krakow, was asked by TVP Info about Iustitia’s proposed amendments to the laws.
The ‘Iustitia’ association has presented projects that, in our opinion, blatantly contradict the constitution. These projects, which will be the subject of dispute, concern the presidential prerogatives regarding the appointment of judges. In short, it aims to dismiss over 3,000 judges (almost one-third of the judiciary). ‘Iustitia’ proposes, among other things, a provision that, from the moment this amendment enters into force, all judges appointed after 2017, at the request of the National Council of the Judiciary formed after 2017, are deemed null and void by law. The law contains many contradictions. As for the consequences for citizens, the enactment of the law will be a disaster. There is a provision that supposedly judgments remain valid. However, how can a judgment remain valid if the law states that the judge’s employment relationship did not exist? I apologize, but who issued that judgment?’ he said.
Could we talk about a coup?
That’s not all. According to Piotr Skrzyszowski, Markiewicz’s claims that the National Council of the Judiciary can be abolished by a resolution of the Sejm (the Polish parliament) constitute ‘another violation of the constitutional order on such a scale that we could talk about a coup.
The same applies to judges. ‘The president’s prerogatives to appoint judges are clearly defined in the constitution. The constitution protects the judge’s employment relationship. Judges are irremovable. The irremovability of a judge guarantees their independence. This is very important for a citizen. It means that no one will dictate the judgment to the judge. Just as the president’s right to sign a law, veto it, or refer it to the Constitutional Tribunal is stipulated in the Constitution,’ Skrzyszowski emphasized.
Asked what would happen if the changes proposed by ‘Iustitia’ were actually implemented, he replied: