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Paweł Juszczyszyn, an Olsztyn-based judge, has not been adjudicating since February 4, 2020, after the politicized Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court suspended him from exercising his professional duties. The judge came under fire for implementing a verdict issued by the CJEU. He repeatedly declared his readiness to work, sending letters to the president of the District Court in Olsztyn, Maciej Nawacki, demanding his immediate reinstatement.
On March 17, Mr Juszczyszyn’s attorney, Prof. Michał Romanowski, filed a motion with the Olsztyn District Court requesting that the president of the court immediately reinstate the suspended judge.
The motion was ultimately considered by the District Court in Bydgoszcz, which on April 14 decided to issue an interim measure allowing Mr Juszczyszyn to temporarily return to the bench.
But when Mr Juszczyszyn came to work on April 19, the head of the Olsztyn court of the first instance did not allow him to adjudicate. Explaining his decision, Mr Nawacki referred to an alleged “competence dispute” between the resolution of the Disciplinary Chamber, which suspended the defiant judge, and the decision of the District Court in Bydgoszcz.
Judge Ewa Kurasz: „the decision emboldens other judges to stand by the rule of law”
Ewa Kurasz, a judge at the District Court in Bartoszyce and member of the Association of Polish Judges "Iustitia", commented on the court’s decision.
"In the case of judge Juszczyszyn, the District Court in Bydgoszcz issued a freezing order, an interim measure. It is by no means a final decision and does not affect on the final verdict. However, it secures the rights of the petitioner for the duration of the legal proceedings.
A court can issue such a decision when it finds that the presented arguments and evidence indicate the claim’s legitimacy, and the nature of the case requires that the petitioner should be given immediate legal protection, without having to wait until the case is legally closed.
As a lawyer, I was convinced that the court will issue such a decision in Paweł Juszczyszyn's case.
In my view, under the existing law, it could not have been otherwise, because the Disciplinary Chamber that suspended Judge Juszczyszyn does not meet the standards of judicial independence and autonomy stipulated by international agreements, the EU law, or the Polish Constitution. Thus, it cannot effectively suspend any judge from exercising his or her professional duties. The only thing I was afraid of was that the case would end up in the hands of a judge who might be intimidated by the perspective of potential individual consequences of such a ruling. Fortunately, the judge in Bydgoszcz showed civil courage, did not bow to pressure, and issued a ruling in accordance with the law.
The decision gives courage to other judges to stand by the rule of law. We see that many judges, including those in Bydgoszcz, refuse to give in to pressure, and issue rulings that are consistent with the rule of law, despite the potential negative consequences in the form of disciplinary proceedings launched by members of the ruling camp.
What we can also see is that the struggle to uphold the rule of law makes sense and that judges who, like Paweł, are being harassed for refusing to toe the party line, can still successfully stand up for their rights.
It is not easy and it does not work immediately, but in the end, it brings results.
I think that the head of the District Court in Olsztyn - Maciej Nawacki - will do everything in his power to prevent Paweł Juszczyszyn from adjudicating. He already made it clear in the media. It is a peculiar situation when the president of the court refuses to comply with a court decision, even though he is obliged to execute it.
Thus, I am convinced that Maciej Nawacki will not only challenge the decision allowing Paweł Juszczyszyn to return to work but will also refuse to execute it.
Fortunately, Paweł Juszczyszyn, like any other person, has the possibility of enforcing this order, which will result in fines being imposed not only on the District Court in Olsztyn but also on Maciej Nawacki, as the person responsible for its effective operation”.
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