Illegally suspended judge Igor Tuleya can teach legal trainees and law students. In its ruling, the capital's court emphasised that the Ziobro`s man Przemysław Radzik – president of Warsaw Regional Court, was groundless and unlawful
- MARIUSZ JAŁOSZEWSKI
THIS IS A PRECEDENT verdict. It was announced on 22nd November 2022 by Judge Małgorzata Kosicka of the Warsaw-Praga Regional Court. The verdict is not final, but it is important not only for Igor Tuleya but also for all judges and the rule of law in Poland. Because banning independent judges from taking on additional work in the form of teaching is an increasingly common additional repression by court presidents, appointees of Minister Zbigniew Ziobro.
By issuing such a ban, Judge Tuleya was harassed by Przemyslaw Radzik, already a former vice-president of the Regional Court in Warsaw. Radzik is better known for prosecuting independent judges as deputy disciplinary commissioner. He does this together with chief ombudsman Piotr Schab and second deputy Michał Lasota.
Now the Warszawa-Praga Regional Court has ruled that it is not disreputable for judges to teach. On the contrary, it is advisable for a judge who is a practitioner of law to train future lawyers. Moreover, it follows from the court's ruling that the president of the court cannot arbitrarily ban such classes because he does not like the judge in question. And Igor Tuleya is already a symbol of free courts and is all the time under pressure from the current government and its appointees in the courts.
Importantly, the Warsaw – Praga court also determined that for such bans, judges can sue their court in the labour court to establish that the ban is unlawful. This is important because there is now no appeal against such a decision by the president. The case for Judge Tuleya was won by his two attorneys from the Dubois and Partners law firm - attorney Elżbieta Buczek and legal advisor Agata Plichta-Trzonkowska.
How Radzik banned Tuleya everything
The vice-president of the Regional Court in Warsaw, Przemysław Radzik, banned Judge Tuleya from teaching a year ago. The judge, in accordance with Article 86 of the Act on the System of the Common Court, notified him that he would be teaching law students at the private Leon Kozminski Academy. In addition, he notified Radzik that he would have lectures at the District Bar Council and the Ad Exemplum School of Trial Law, which prepares legal advisers and advocates for the professional examination.
To which Radzik responded with three objections. He explained that the Disciplinary Chamber had waived the judge's immunity and he was facing criminal charges. In such circumstances, Tuleya's conduct of the class would bring the dignity of the judge's office into disrepute. And he himself, as a potential suspect, would give no guarantee that the classes would be properly conducted. In fact, he would expose future lawyers to "ethically unclassifiable behaviour". It is a suggestion that he could demoralise them with the rule of law.
Radzik's objection was absurd. Because the judge's immunity was waived by the illegal Disciplinary Chamber of the supreme Court, which is a foregone conclusion, since even the Law and Justice Party itself abolished this Chamber. Moreover, the criminal charge that the National Prosecutor's Office wants to bring against Tuleya is unfounded. Because it wants to prosecute him for allowing journalists to attend the announcement in 2017 of a ruling critical of PiS. The judge had the right to do so, as even judge Adam Roch of the Disciplinary Chamber himself confirmed when he refused to allow the prosecution to detain the judge.
The issuing of an objection by Radzik should be seen as another element of repression. With the lifting of his immunity in November 2020, Tuleya was also suspended and his salary was reduced by 25 per cent. Ziobro's disciplinary commissioners are also starting the disciplinary actions against Tuleya for criticising Minister Ziobro and his people and for meetings with citizens. However, Tuleya is not afraid and stands firmly for the rule of law. Today he is a symbol of free courts. That is why he is constantly attacked and harassed.
Radzik's opposition, however, froze the authorities of Kozminski University, which decided to end its cooperation with Tuleya. Even though it was not the addressee of Radzik's decision and it did not bind the university. When the case was publicised by, among others, OKO.press; students and academics from the Academy protested. As a result, the university authorities changed their decision and invited Tuleya back.
Despite Radzik's ban, the judge also cooperated with the District Bar Council and the Ad Exemplum School of Trial Law, which did not give Radzik a freeze.
Tuleya sues his court over Radzik's veto
Judge Igor Tuleya faces further disciplinary action for teaching, despite Radzik's objection. OKO.press reports that Minister Ziobro's disciplinary commissioners have undertaken investigative actions that could end in disciplinary charges. Therefore, the judge sued his home Regional Court in Warsaw to establish that taking teaching classes did not interfere with the provisions of the Act on the system of common courts and did not offend the dignity of a judge's office.
Tuleya filed three lawsuits - each subtracting a different institution where he teaches. The lawsuits circulated around the capital's courts because judges excluded themselves from hearing them on the grounds that they knew the judge. Eventually, the case went to Judge Małgorzata Kosicka of the labour department of the Warszawa-Praga Regional Court.
And on Tuesday 22 November 2022, a non-final judgment was handed down. It is reported to us by Judge Tulea's attorney, counsel Agata Plichta-Trzonkowska: 'The court found that taking additional classes at the Leon Koźmiński Academy, the Ad Exemplum School of Trial Law and the District Bar Council did not and does not interfere with the prohibitions of the Act on the Common Court System. In particular, it does not bring the dignity of the office of a judge into disrepute. What does this mean? The judgment determines that the decision of the court's vice-president is unlawful. The Warszawa-Praga Regional Court ruled that if a judge gives notice of a teaching activity that he or she wishes to undertake, the provisions of the Act preclude such activity from bringing dishonour'.
Judge Małgorzata Kosicka emphasised in the oral justification of the judgment that the teaching activity that a judge wants to undertake is not subject to assessment by the president of the court as to whether it brings disrepute to the judicial profession. This is because the legislature itself has ruled this out. This is due to the nature of the activity.
"The court emphasised that it is an ennoblement and a source of satisfaction for the judge, and an injection of substantive knowledge for the audience," - reports attorney Plichta-Trzonkowska. She adds: 'The president of the court can at most investigate whether the additional work interferes with the judge's duties in court. But after all, Tuleya is suspended, so taking up this employment cannot interfere with judicial functions. So the decision of the court's vice-president is groundless and unlawful."
Attorney Plichta-Trzonkowska still tells OKO.press: "The court also prejudged the admissibility of the access to court in such cases. It ruled that it is an employee case and the judge can sue the employer for issuing an objection." This ruling can still be appealed by the new president of the Warsaw District Court, Joanna Przanowska-Tomaszek.
Tuleya fights to return to court, while Radzik further represses judges
Judge Tuleya has not let himself be broken by the numerous repressions. He has already been suspended for more than two years and is the longest suspended judge by the illegal Disciplinary Chamber. Previously, the longest suspended was Paweł Juszczyszyn from Olsztyn, but he has already returned to adjudication.
Tuleya is fighting for reinstatement because he does not recognise the Chamber's decision to suspend him. He does not recognise it because the Chamber is not a court, as is clear from the judgments of the ECtHR, the CJEU and the Polish SN and NSA.
In March 2022, the Warsaw-Praga Regional Court issued a final preliminary measure in which it reinstated him to adjudicate. But the then president of the regional court Piotr Schab and his deputy Przemyslaw Radzik blocked Tuleya's return.
In August 2022, the new court president Joanna Przanowska-Tomaszek, an appointee of Ziobro's ministry, wanted to allow Tuleya to adjudicate. But her decision was overturned under administrative supervision by Przemysław Radzik, acting as the newly appointed vice-president of the Court of Appeal in Warsaw. Piotr Schab, on the other hand, has recently become president there.
Next week, on 29 November, Tulea will be in the news again. The new Supreme Court Professional Responsibility Chamber, which replaced the abolished Disciplinary Chamber, will finally decide whether to give permission to the National Prosecutor's Office to detain and forcibly bring an absurd criminal charge against the judge. Tuleya has already filed three complaints against Poland at the ECHR for the repression he has suffered.
Przemyslaw Radzik and Piotr Schab continue to repress judges, but already in the Warsaw Court of Appeal. Radzik signed a decision - on behalf of President Schab - to transfer three experienced judges from the criminal division to the labour division from August 2022. These are Ewa Leszczyńska-Furtak, Ewa Gregajtys and Marzanna Piekarska-Drążek. This is a punishment for challenging the status of neo-judges on the basis of judgments of the ECtHR and the CJEU. And Radzik and Schab are the neo-judges as well.
As we revealed in OKO.press for their punitive transfer to the labour department, the three judges have now filed a precedent-setting lawsuit. In it, they demand that the court declare Radzik's decisions unlawful and that the court reinstate them in the criminal division.