Iustitia: “The National Council of the Judiciary is not valid anymore” (OKO.press)

The following is Maciej Nawacki’s list. Olsztyn-based Nawacki, nominated by Ziobro, managed to collect 15 judges’ signatures in Olsztyn, yet as many as five of them backed off later. This could undermine all of ‘neo-NCJ’ plot. Outside of Olsztyn Nawacki has been supported by 13 judges, all of them serving in Ziobro’s Ministry of Justice. Iustitia: “The National Council of the Judiciary is not valid anymore”.

On the Nawacki’s support list there are 28 signatures of supporters, including himself (5th position) and his wife (14th position). Nawacki is a member of the new NCJ and the President of the District Court in Olsztyn, nominated by Minister Ziobro.

Of the 15  judges from Olsztyn as many as five have withdrawn their support. This could mean that Nawacki collected only 23 signatures rather than required 25.

In the evening Judges’ Association Iustitia issued the following statement:

“What follows from the published lists is the corollary that the National Council of the Judiciary does not exist anymore, because Maciej Nawacki failed to collect the required number of 25 signatures of judges. On his list there are 28 signatures, including his own, but before formal submission of the list to the Speaker of  Sejm (lower chamber of Parliament) five of the judges formally withdrew their support.

In conclusion, Maciej Nawacki has been supported by 22 judges rather than required 25.”

As stated above, Iustitia calls into question Nawacki’s own signature, too. The number of signatures on Nawacki’s list is crucial for the legal status of the whole new NCJ, because all of 15 its members-NCJ judges were elected in single parliamentary ballot thanks to the votes of MPs from Law and Justice and Kukiz 15. Members of Parliament voted for the readymade list prepared by the parliamentary Commission of Justice. Both parties had indicated their nominees to the Commision first. The preliminary list included 18 candidates, but the Commission voted three of them out. Thus, contesting the nomination of at least one member of the new NCJ may undermine the nomination of all of them.

All of this is known because on Friday at 3 P.M. the Administrative Office of the Diet published on its website the signatures supporting all of the 15 members of the new NCJ.

First Olsztyn, then Warsaw

Signatures supporting Nawacki have been collected on two lists. The first one contains 15 signatures from the District Court in Olsztyn, including those five who later revoked their support, also including both Nawacki and his wife. This means that Nawacki managed to gather less than one fourth of signatures, as the number of judges in Olsztyn District Court amounts to 64.

The next 13 names are judges from outside of Olsztyn. According to an investigation conducted by OKO.press, as many as 12 of them are delegated to work at the Ministry of Justice. This may be considered a prestigious award by Minister Ziobro. This also means less work. To say nothing of few thousand zlotys bonus per month, plus housing allowance.

On the list there is the name of Michal Lasota, one of Ziobro’s three disciplinary spokespersons, who ruthlessly persecutes independent judges.  

Who supported Nawacki in Olsztyn and who took credit for it

Most Olsztyn judges provided their support in good faith. When the signatures were being collected, learned OKO.press, Nawacki was still in the beginning of his career as Ziobro-nominated Court President, and his colleagues hoped he’d fare better than his often criticized predecessor. They’ve known him for more than dozen years, they worked together in the court.

OKO.press learned that two of the Olsztyn judges who had backed Nawacki, later acquired certain professional benefits.

Judge Iwona Nowak (3rd on the list) became head of Commercial Department in the District Court, later the new NCJ promoted her to the Regional Court in Olsztyn.

Tomasz Koszewski (1st on the list) worked temporarily on delegation in the Ministry of Justice. There were rumors it happened by dint of Maciej Nawacki. The delegation was terminated when the disciplinary spokesperson took up a case of his backlog in the court.  

Recently, he was the only judge from Olsztyn who stood by Nawacki during the judges’ meeting when Nawacki infamously tore up the judges’ printed and signed resolutions.

Joanna Bury, who was Nawacki’s supervisor in the court, took another road. She’d supported Nawacki, but later took an active part in the defense of free courts. She stood in a group picture (a token of solidarity with the persecuted judges), to be later dismissed from the delegation to the Regional Court. Few days ago she withdrew her candidacy to the Regional Court, not willing to be promoted by the new NCJ. We covered the topic on the OKO.press website.

Judge Katarzyna Zabuska went to become Nawacki’s deputy, but after few weeks she resigned, dissatisfied with Ziobro’s protégée’s style of management.  

Five judges withdrew their support for Nawacki

Most Olsztyn judges who had backed Nawacki, reported themselves in 2019, when asked to do so by Iustitia. Most of them stand now for the independence of the courts of law, opposing Ziobro-nominated President.

In 2019 four judges from Olsztyn revealed they had backed off their support for Nawacki before submission of the list in the Diet. They demanded their names to be removed. They are: Joanna Urlińska, Anna Pałasz, Katarzyna Zabuska, and Krzysztof Bieńkowski. Nawacki however failed to proceed their protest in the Diet. The judges went on to fax it directly, getting no answer. After the submission of the list, the fifth of the judges, Katarzyna Jerka, also withdrew her support. The withdrawal came just in time before NCJ submissions deadline. Jerka revealed this fact only several days ago, as she had fought in court to have the NCJ list published, in the case against PDPO (Personal Data Protection Office).

Thus, it is problematic to state that Nawacki succeeded in collecting all the 25 signatures required by law, even if we take into account that judge Jerka’s withdrawal might have been overdue.

All the others were Zbigniew Ziobro’s men

As OKO.press learned, the remaining 13 signatures on the new NCJ list were laid down by the judges from outside of Olsztyn. All of them (except the disciplinary spokesperson Lasota) worked as delegates to the Ministry of Justice. They are on the track of their respective careers in Warsaw, serving as representatives of the self-styled “good change” in Poland’s courts of justice.

It is however plausible to surmise that signing the support proved to be profitable in the form of further career development to several persons engaged. They are:

Michal Lasota – in the time of signature gathering he was a judge in Nowe Miasto Lubawskie; he later went on to become its president, and one of the three disciplinary commissioners attached to Minister Ziobro; at present he persecutes independent judges;

Pawel Zwolak – a judge from Janow Lubelski; for many years on delegation in Ziobro’s Ministry of Justice; presently he serves as the head of the Department of Administrative Supervision in the Ministry of Justice;

Henryk Walczewski – a judge of the District Court in Krakow; for many years on delegation in the Ministry of Justice; presently a chief specialist in the Ministry of Justice (Department of Administrative Supervision)

Paweł Mroczkowski – also a judge from Janow Lubelski;  presently head of the Department of Legislation of the Civil Law in the Ministry of Justice;

Andrzej Skowron – from Tarnow; delegated to the Ministry of Justice; upward trend in career; he recently received recommendation from the new NCJ to the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court

Rafal Puchalski – presently a member of the new NCJ; previously delegated to the Ministry of Justice; went on to become the President of the Regional Court in Rzeszow, where he stirred up conflicts with the local judges; his name appeared in the “hate scandal”; according to Onet, he helped “Lil’ Emi” to pen the denigrating commentary on Krystian Markiewicz, head of Iustitia; recently got recommended by the new NCJ to the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court;

Urszula Klejnowska-Mosiolek – presently in retirement; when the signatures were gathered, she was delegated to the Ministry of Justice from the District Court in Jawor

Jacek Przygucki – from the District Court in Suwalki; was delegated to the Ministry of Justice

Piotr Szydlowski – from the District Court in Suwalki; was delegated to the Ministry of Justice

Katarzyna Dil – from the District Court in Elk; delegated to the Ministry of Justice

Aneta Michalek – from the District Court in Zamosc; delegated to the Ministry of Justice

Rafal Waszkiewicz – from Warsaw; delegated to the Ministry of Justice

Arkadiusz Czerwoniuk – he was promoted twice; first, he got promotion from Szczecin Garrison Military Court to the Military Regional Court in Warsaw, becoming its vice-President; thanks to efforts by Civic Network Watchdog Polska it was revealed that for 1,5 years he was delegated to work in the Ministry of Justice; the only Szczecin judge to support highly politicized NCJ, during Ziobro’s term of office got promoted to work in Warsaw.

Wrote an expert opinion for Sejm, then got promoted to the Supreme Court

Support lists for Nawacki were accompanied by two expert opinions, attached to them by the Administrative Office of Sejm. Their authors insist that Olsztyn judges could not effectively withdraw their support. Their opinions admit however that no regulations cover such an issue. Nonetheless, in the case of Leszek Mazur, another candidate for a membership in the NCJ (and presently its member), is may be assumed that such withdrawals have been actually acknowledged. His support list has three names wiped out in black ink. According to the Administrative Office of the Diet, this had been done before the list was submitted to the Diet.

The opinions were prepared by Marek Dobrowolski, Ph.D., from the Chair of Constitutional Law Department, Catholic University in Lublin, and Adam Kaczmarek, Ph.D., head of the Department of Legal Analyses  in the Office of Sejm Analyses. Both opinions were presented in early February 2018. It means that in such an early stage the Diet prepared a backup for a possible questioning of Nawacki list signatures in the future.

Marek Dobrowolski of Catholic University in Lublin was then elected by the new NCJ to the newly created (by the Law and Justice party) Chamber of Extraordinary Controlling and Public Affairs of the Supreme Court.

Previously, in the years 2000-2006, he worked in the Institute of National Remembrance as an official. He went on to become a member of Committee for the Constitutional Referendum, intended by the President Andrzej Duda. Dobrowolski was also a member of the Prime Minister’s Legislation Council. New NCJ (with Maciej Nawacki in its ranks) has recommended Dobrowolski to become a member of the Supreme Court, despite him never having served in any active legal profession.