MARIUSZ JAŁOSZEWSKI MAGDALENA GAŁCZYŃSKA
APRIL 20, 2022
Onet and OKO.press investigation.
How Piebiak was looking for hooks for judges in green folders. Pointed out "pests"
As Deputy Minister of Justice, Łukasz Piebiak has revealed the unauthorized persons sensitive and official data of particular judges. The aim was to eliminate "pests", i.e. people critical to PiS's changes in the courts, as well as those who were exposed to it, according to a joint investigation by Onet and OKO.press
We have evidence of all these actions, including the testimony of two judges from the center of the milieu supporting PiS changes in the courts: Arkadiusz Cichocki and Tomasz Szmydt. Both confirm that "the hate scandal was a fact."
"It's just that I would rather call it a" leakage "scandal, because these information leaks were the order of the day," Judge Cichocki tells us.
We also have photos proving that Łukasz Piebiak made available to judge Cichocki his office and three so-called green folders, i.e. internal personal documents of judges.
“These are internal ministry documents. No outsiders had the right to see them, and thanks to Piebiak, I had an insight, as well as Emilia Szmydt [the person responsible for some of the attacks on the Internet, later revealed the hate scandal] "- adds Cichocki.
Judge Arkadiusz Cichocki, who today confirms the hate scandal, in November 2017 became the "good change" (appointed directly by Minister of Justice) president of the Regional Court in Gliwice. During the first meeting with Piebiak at the Ministry of Justice, he immediately heard which judges in his court - as the new president - were to be removed from the administrative positions in the court. One of the situations concerned Piebiak's personal revenge.
Łukasz Piebiak did not answer our questions regarding the information disclosed in this text. Similarly, the other judges mentioned in the text, who, according to judges Cichocki and Szmydt, were members of the Cast / Anti cast discussion group on WhatsApp. Only Judge Paweł Zwolak (delegated to the Ministry of Justice) responded to our questions - threatening us with legal consequences for allegedly infringing his personal rights.
A short story of Łukasz Piebiak
Łukasz Piebiak is a former deputy of Zbigniew Ziobro in the Ministry of Justice (from November 2015 to August 2019) - he was responsible for the judiciary. As a judge and former member of the authorities of the Iustitia judges' association, he was - as the media wrote - actually the "main HR manager” when in 2017 and 2018 Ziobro enlisted en masse presidents and vice-presidents of courts all over Poland. This was done mainly by fax, which is why the new Presidents were called „fax presidets”. And this is what Piebiak knew from within the judiciary environment.
In August 2019, Onet revealed that a year earlier, Piebiak actively cooperated with the previously Internet hatter, and then whistleblower Emilia Szmydt (on Twitter she used the nickname Mała Emi, she was judge Tomasz Szmydt's wife at that time) in the campaign of slandering judges against the changes implemented by the rulers. After disclosing the existence of a troll farm in the Ministry of Justice, Piebiak resigned on August 20, 2019.
The findings of Onet and OKO.press show that Łukasz Piebiak, when he was still the deputy minister of justice, even talked about the possibility of employment in this ministry for Emila Szmydt. We write about it later in the text.
After leaving the ministry, Piebiak found employment at the Institute of Justice, which was dependent on Ziobra's ministry, and then received a recommendation from the new National Council of the Judiciary to be appointed judge of the Supreme Administrative Court. But the president has still not appointed him to this position.
Piebiak was also a candidate of the PiS club to the new National Council of the Judiciary, the election of which may take place in the near future. Only a month ago, the PiS parliamentaty group, without giving any reasons, withdrew its support for his candidacy. It has been speculated that Minister Zbigniew Ziobro or President Andrzej Duda were against his election to the new NCJ.
Piebiak, Cichocki and green folders
New evidence obtained by Onet and OKO.press, as well as the confessions of two judges who were deeply embedded in the community of judges supporting PiS changes in the courts and gathered around Piebiak in 2018, show that the former deputy minister not only coordinated the hating of judges, but went further next.
He made available to outsiders the internal, official documents of the ministry, i.e. personal information about judges, which should only be viewed by the management of the ministry, its personnel services or - as an exception - the main disciplinary commissioner (appointed by minister Ziobro).
Due to the color of their covers, these documents are commonly referred to as "green folders".
"In general, it was felt then that the atmosphere was such that it was desirable to look for materials against those" against us ", judge Tomasz Szmydt tells us.
Piebiak was to grant access to these "green folders" to judge Arkadiusz Cichocki, although he had no right to view these materials. Only that the stake and the goal here was to find "hooks" for a specific, indicated by the name of the judge. It was Emilia Szmydt who suggested the idea to deal with a certain judge and thus show that the Ministry of Justice is taking up the removal of "communist deposits" from the judiciary.
"Of course there was a hate scandal," says Judge Cichocki, former president of the Regional Court in Gliwice, who resigned when Emilia Szmydt (with whom he had an affair) posted his intimate photo on Twitter in March 2019.
Judge Cichocki was also delegated to adjudicate in the Court of Appeal in Katowice. Zbigniew Ziobro recalled him from this delegation in 2019, right after Onet disclosed the hate scandal.
Cichocki spoke with Onet and OKO.press in March 2022, revealing everything he remembered and managed to document from the time when he was the president of the court (nominated by minister Ziobro) and a trusted man, the so-called good change in the courts.
“I want to tell you about it, because I can't keep silent any longer. I saw how judges are destroyed for a little thing, for anything ... ”- says judge Cichocki.
“That's why I, who saw it and who was inside this environment, moreover, I myself had some part in this destruction of judges, for which I am ashamed to this day, I want to finally cleanse myself. I apologize. In the name of principles and for the sake of the rule of law, which has been and is being destroyed in Poland by some circles, ” he emphasizes.
"The information provided on Onet in August 2019 was true. Except that I would call this whole scandal not so much a hate, but a “leakage” scandal. This is because the essence of this scandal, something more serious than insults, was the use of official documents to practice hate, which came from sources from which they had no right to come out, ”judge Cichocki tells us.
What are these sources? “It is mainly about the official documentation of each judge, which is at the disposal of the Ministry of Justice. The ministry calls it "green folders", because of the color of the covers. There is everything about every common court judge. Past, family situation, status of family members, their possible problems with the law, etc. Facts and, colloquially speaking, "dirt" - which each of us has in our lives - and which cannot be obtained from any other source. I personally had access to three such "green files", which I read in the office of the then Deputy Minister Łukasz Piebiak in the ministry with his knowledge and consent, ”says the judge.
He adds that he saw other green folders in Piebiak's office - including those in troleys - but he does not know why the deputy minister took them off.
Cichocki was to see three green folders on July 26, 2018. "I have confirmation of this in the form of screens on my phone and photos taken at the Ministry of Justice at that time, incl. from the office of the then Deputy Minister Piebiak, on which you can see green folders lying on his [Piebiak - ed.] desk ”- emphasizes Judge Cichocki.
"Minister Piebiak not only made these files available to me, but also urged me to read faster in his WhatsApp correspondence," he says. “I would like to make it clear that only the management of the ministry or, possibly, the central disciplinary commissioners, if they submit such a request, have access to such files. However, any such access should be officially recorded in the system in writing. As the president of the Gliwice Regiont, I could possibly view such files of people from my area, but I was provided with official, internal documents of the ministry concerning, for example, judges from Wejherowo, i.e. from the Gdańsk area. And these were the leaks I was talking about, because the purpose of browsing through these files was to find "hooks" that would allow repression against these judges, "reveals Cichocki.
"In addition to disciplines, it was also possible to take discrediting actions against these judges, either in social media or in the media related to the rulers," he explains.
Piebiak recommends to Cichocki: You have three, because there are two gags from W.
Cichocki's version is confirmed by the discussion he had on the Cast group on WhatsApp on the same day, July 26, 2018, with Piebiak. Let us remind you that the Cast group, interchangeably called Anti Cast, was a chat on WhatsApp, where lawyers - representatives of the so-called a good change, headed by Łukasz Piebiak. The one on Cast / Anti Cast was often called the Mob Leader.
On July 26, 2018, at 1:14 PM, Cichocki posted an entry (original spelling): "Kuba what is with a fish?", Directed to Judge Jakub Iwaniec (the capital district judge, then working on a delegation at the Ziobry ministry), a member of the Cast group. The question was about a purely social situation.
Piebiak, described by judge Cichocki on his phone as MS II, wrote a minute later: "Read books, don't chat."
“Of course, the» books «from the entry of the then Deputy Minister Piebiak meant the» green folders «I described, which were already waiting for me in his office. Piebiak was not there at the moment, ”says judge Cichocki.
Exchange of views continued. Cichocki sent a photo from the office of one of the directors in the Ministry of Justice, Paweł Zwolak, also a member of the Cast group (this is a judge from Janów Lubelski, works on a delegation at the ministry, the new National Council of the Judiciary promoted him to the Regional Court in Zamość). This photo shows Cichocki and director Zwolak. Piebiak wrote back to that: "I understand that." And Cichocki excused himself:
"I fix Poland. On the rug at the very director's [Zwolak - ed.] ”.
Piebiak then gave the Cast group a firm order to Cichocki: "Read march upstairs". Cichocki wrote back: "Yes, Mr. Mob Leader". Two minutes later, at 1:20 pm, he posted his photo (the so-called selfie) taken in Piebiak's office, against the background of his desk, on which there are "green folders". He added an inscription: "at your service".
Piebiak wrote back to this: "You have three [green files - ed], because there are two pennies from W. ”.
“This» W «from the entry by Minister Piebiak concerned Wejherowo, because then, after Emilia Szmydt's suggestions, I was investigating the case of the judge from Wejherowo. However, Minister Piebiak made it clear to me that there was one more judge in Wejherowo, whom I should be interested in, "reports Cichocki.
“I focused on the file of one of the judges. In fact, there was information there that needed more attention. It is a pity that it was not about justice, but about showing how "good change" cleans the courts of "communist" deposits, "he points out.
Leaks continued. Piebiak discloses sensitive information to harm the judge
“It has probably been established long ago that Emilia Szmydt was not an anonymous, individual player, but a person providing specific activities for the Ministry of Justice. Free of charge ”- judge Arkadiusz Cichocki tells Onet and OKO.press. “I myself received from Piebiak via e-mail a scanned copy of the documentation on the validity of the sick leave by the Social Insurance Institution for judge Ryszard Milewski from the Regional Court in Białystok. This happened on July 30, 2018. The content of the message and my conversations with Emilia Szmydt showed that she also received this document from the deputy minister "- he reports.
At the beginning of June 2020, Onet revealed that this Piebiak's "e-mail chain" actually took place. The then deputy minister sent confidential, sensitive data on Judge Milewski to people who had no right to access such documents. It was then that he handed over to Emilia Szmydt, who cooperated with him, a confidential document from the Social Insurance Institution addressed to the president of the Regional Court in Białystok. It is about the opinion of the ZUS certifying doctor, including the Social Security Personal Number and home address of Judge Milewski, as well as a description of his health condition.
Two days later, TVP Info published its "news" about the alleged "fake" sick leave of a judge. Protocols from the meeting of judges from Łódź along with handwritten signatures of the participants were also sent to Mala Emi. Three days later, TVP news prepared a material attacking Lodz lawyers. The inspiration behind its creation was Emilia Szmydt, while Judge Cichocki cooperated with her, who - while on vacation - tried to persuade his fellow judges to comment on this issue for TVP.
Piebiak indicates the "pests" to be removed. Personal revange in the background
In November 2017, Judge Cichocki became the president of the regional court in Gliwice. During the first meeting with Piebiak at the Ministry of Justice, he immediately heard which judges in court - as the new president - were to be removed from the administrative positions in the court.
“There was no ambiguity, no beating around the bushes. During the conversation, Deputy Minister Piebiak said that I absolutely must remove one of the departments chairmen from the post. As the deputy minister put it, this judge is a “pest”, says Judge Cichocki.
"He also added that he expects to" clean up "the marriage of judges Wojciech Hajduk [former deputy justice minister in the PO-PSL government - ed.] And Magdalena Balion-Hajduk, adjudicating in the Regional Court in Gliwice. He was the chairman of one of the departments, and judge Balion-Hajduk was the deputy disciplinary commissioner, "reports Cichocki.
“Later I found out that Deputy Minister Piebiak had personal issues with judge Hajduk. It was Hajduk who, when he was the deputy minister of justice, recalled Piebiak from the delegation to the ministry, ”he explains.
However, this was not the end of the interference of the former deputy minister in managing the court in Gliwice.
“On April 23, 2018, I got an email from him titled" Pest List ". I have it still preserved, ”says judge Cichocki. Onet and OKO.press also have a copy of this e-mail.
“It included administrative judges from the Regional Court in Gliwice, whom I should have dismissed from the function, as expected. In total, according to the wishes of Deputy Minister Piebiak, it was supposed to be 21 people, ”he explains. “There were 12 inspecting judges, 8 heads of departaments and the court's spokespeson for criminal matters. In the e-mail, Deputy Minister Piebiak added a note, pointing named after five judges who were to be the "greatest pests" - describes our interlocutor.
"As I was reluctant to meet these expectations, on May 7, 2018, i.e. three days before the date in which I could, in an extraordinary mode, dismiss judges in office without giving any reasons [such purges were allowed by the new law on courts passed by PiS - ed.], I was invited to a meeting in the office of Deputy Minister Piebiak in Warsaw. During the meeting, I heard that there are named persons who I absolutely must dismiss from their functions, be they inspectors or heads of departments. As a result, I dismissed two people from the function. There were evident pressures for me to dismiss more people, but for many reasons I could not do it, ”Cichocki assures.
Little Emi working at the ministry? Piebiak was "aye"
Judge Cichocki made his first contact with Emilia Szmydt at the end of June 2018. And he met her personally on July 18, 2018, during a social event at which Piebiak was also present. The then deputy minister, in an interview with Judge Cichocki, asked him to help Emilia Szmydt prepare legal materials in such a way that would be understandable to a layman. "Since then, we have contacted Emilia frequently," says judge Cichocki. “Her personal situation was not easy. She did not work, she had no social security, apart from those guaranteed by her husband, ”judge Cichocki points out.
Then, in the summer of 2018, Cichocki began to insist that Emilia Szmydt's actions for the so-called good changes have been duly appreciated. He intervened with Piebiak for some form of employment for her. And on August 22, 2018, in Piebiak's office - as judges Cichocki and Tomasz Szmydt said - talked about this matter. The meeting was attended by: Piebiak and judges Szmydt and Cichocki.
"During this conversation with the deputy minister, together with Tomasz Szmydt, we raised the topic of Emilia Szmydt's further activities for the Ministry of Justice," Judge Cichocki tells us. - "Deputy Minister Łukasz Piebiak informed me and Szmydt that he had discussed the issue of Emilia's employment in the ministry with Zbigniew Ziobro and informed him that he had such a person providing assistance in contacts with the media," Judge Cichocki describes. "Łukasz Piebiak's statements showed that he had received an assurance from Zbigniew Ziobro that the ministry had a set of jobs for such people. She could [Emilia Szmydt - ed.] Take advantage of this opportunity and continue to deal with the activities that she already performs for the ministry "- reports the meeting on August 22, 2018, judge Cichocki.
"I confirm, this was the interview," Judge Tomasz Szmydt tells us, the second witness and participant of this meeting in Piebiak's office in the premises of the Ministry of Justice. He is a judge of the Provincial Administrative Court in Warsaw, at that time he was working on a delegation to the ministry and tried to be transferred to the legal office of the new, politically elected National Council of the Judiciary. "We received information from Deputy Minister Piebiak that there is a pool of jobs in the ministry for people who are to contact the media," explains Szmydt.
“Finally, apart from this conversation, the case had no further follow-up, because Emilia was not employed in the ministry. In fact, I regretted it then, because it would not be a bad solution, ”judge Szmydt tells us. “I thought so then, but now I have changed my mind. Let me put it straight - I lost the most from the entire scandal in and around the Ministry of Justice and around Piebiak. Both family and professional. I regret it and I am not going to be silent, ”emphasizes judge Szmydt.
“Coming back to the possible employment of Emilia in a full-time job at the Ministry of Justice. The case did not have a follow-up. Because although my wife at the time was willing to take up such a full-time job in the ministry, the case has expired, as if there was no green light at the end, ”says Judge Szmydt. He adds: "However, the fact is that such an idea was discussed and that Minister Piebiak got involved in it."
As he adds, he would like to close the stage of his life in which he was inside the so-called good change.
Let us emphasize that Łukasz Piebiak did not answer any of our questions regarding the information disclosed in this text. He did not react to them at all. Judge Jakub Iwaniec declined to comment and demanded not to contact him "in any form". And the judge mentioned in the text, Paweł Zwolak, delegated to the Ministry of Justice, wrote back to us:
”In response to the questions asked, I kindly inform you that any attempt to violate my personal rights by you will result in the need for an appropriate legal response. As such actions by other editorial offices had already taken place in the past, I was forced to institute appropriate court proceedings ”.
We also sent questions about the scope of knowledge about the activities of Emilia Szmydt to the Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro. Here is the answer we got from the Ministry of Justice's communications office liwości: “Minister Zbigniew Ziobro had no knowledge of the activities of Ms. Emilia Szmidt [original spelling - ed.], which was the subject of the proceedings in the District Prosecutor's Office in Świdnica, before this activity was disclosed in the mass media. The minister did not intend to employ Ms Emilia Szmidt and did not identify such a person ”.
The press office of the ministry continues: “As for the personal affairs of judges, many have complicated relationships in this area - and even pending litigation. Private issues, however, are not the area of interest of the ministry - they did not and do not have any influence on personnel decisions. "
In response to our questions, the Ministry assures: “In the case from three years ago, Minister Zbigniew Ziobro took decisive action and took an unequivocally negative stance towards the described behavior. As soon as he learned from the media about a possible breach of standards, he accepted the resignation of Łukasz Piebiak, considering that the matter required an explanation. "