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Polish judge punished by the new Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court for a correct verdict

In August 2016 judge Alina Czubieniak of the District Court in Gorzow Wielkopolski, when hearing an appeal from a ruling ordering pre-trial detention of an intellectually disabled suspect who could not read and write, ruled that he should have had a defence attorney when his detention was being decided by the first instance court. Because the suspect had been denied a defence attorney in first instance proceedings (the attorney had been appointed only in time to appeal the pre-trial detention), his constitutional rights have been violated and the judge quashed the ruling and ordered the first instance court to rule on the prosecutor’s detention motion again, this time with the defence attorney defending the suspect.

On 22 March 2019 the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court found that the judge, by quashing the original detention ruling in order to guarantee that the intellectually disabled suspect’s constitutional rights, had committed a disciplinary offense and sentenced her to a disciplinary warning.

Judge Czubieniak was originally cleared of all charges brought against her by the Disciplinary Prosecutor beholden to the Minister of Justice by the Appellate Court. When hearing her case as the first instance court the Appellate Court found that her ruling was not only formally correct, but equitable and righteous.

Both the Disciplinary Prosecutor and the Minister of Justice, who has taken an interest in the case, appealed the ruling.

Now the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, empanelled by judges selected by the illegally appointed and government-beholden National Judiciary Council (which also includes a representative of the Minister of Justice) has ruled that judge Czubieniak is guilty of “a glaring and obvious infringement of the rules of criminal proceedings” – even though the Disciplinary Chamber ruling admits that judge Czubieniak’s decision was basically correct.

The only issue with judge Czubieniak’s decision that the Disciplinary Chamber identified is that according to the Supreme Court it should have been based on a different provision of the criminal procedure code.

When presenting the oral reasons for the judgement one of the Disciplinary Chamber judges hearing the case stated that "the punishment has an educational and preventive function in relation to the judicial environment. It is a proper reaction of the public authority to the blameworthy behaviour of the judges."

The panel of the Disciplinary Chamber consisted of ex-notary public, ex-legal counsel and a lay judge, all of them without any prior judicial experience, and no experience in the field of criminal law as well.

More information on the case can be found here:






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