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On Monday, the politicized Disciplinary Chamber decided that the evidence presented by the prosecution was insufficient to revoke the immunity of Judge Beata Morawiec. Piotr Falkowski, the chamber’s spokesman, told journalists that the decision was passed by a majority vote, with Jan Majchrowski issuing the only dissenting opinion.
In October 2020, at the request of the National Prosecutor's Office, the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court (whose legality is questioned by many legal experts) has ruled to revoke the immunity of Judge Beata Morawiec, former president of the District Court in Kraków and the chair of the association of judges "Themis".
The case of Judge Beata Morawiec
The judge was dismissed by the Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro at the end of November 2017 without cause. In a communiqué that appeared on the website of the Ministry of Justice, the decision was linked to the detention of the heads of courts in Wrocław and Kraków by the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA) on the same day (the reason for it being an investigation of corruption in the Court of Appeals in Kraków). Judge Morawiec was dismissed for allegedly exercising improper supervision over one of the court directors.
After the charges against her have been announced, Ms Morawiec took legal action against the Minister of Justice. She sued him for defamation and won the case in both instances. Mr Ziobro still appealed against the judgment and the public prosecutor’s office (which he controls) announced it will press corruption charges against judge Morawiec.
Judge Morawiec denies the allegations
The judge’s case was overseen by the Department of Internal Affairs of the National Prosecutor's Office - a special unit established in 2016 to smear the Polish justice system and undermine the authority of independent judges. The prosecution accused Ms Morawiec of allegedly accepting a cell phone from a defendant in exchange for a favorable ruling. She was also said to have taken PLN 5,000 for a judicial analysis she never delivered.
When the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA) agents entered her house with a search warrant, Ms. Morawiec gave them the judicial analysis. An expert witness confirmed that she prepared the analysis and passed on his expertise to the Disciplinary Chamber. Ms. Morawiec denies the allegations of bribery as "nonsense". - I have never committed a crime in my entire life. Those who say I did, are lying. Slander can be a very effective weapon in the hands of people who want to destroy others- she said back in 2020.
Beata Morawiec: I’m returning to the bench
Although she was present at the Supreme Court on Monday, judge Morawiec did not appear in front of the Disciplinary Chamber. She questions its authority. - I refuse to appear in front of Disciplinary the Chamber because it doesn’t meet the requirements of a court as defined by Polish and European law. It is not a court. I believe that this Chamber is acting illegally, and I cannot legitimize it- Ms Morawiec said explaining her absence.
Her attorneys have no doubts: - The civil case against Minister Zbigniew Ziobro and the charges which the prosecution wants to bring against Beata Morawiec are inseparably connected - believes Judge Maciej Czajka, one of the attorneys representing Beata Morawiec before the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court.
The ruling to uphold the immunity of judge Morawiec is final and immediately enforceable. The prosecution has no further means of appeal against it. Judge Morawiec will receive her full salary (it was reduced by half in the first instance decision).
Commenting on the chamber’s decision, in an interview with TVN24, Radosław Baszuk, Ms Morawiec’s attorney, said: - The label of a criminal was removed from her, but the most important thing is that she can return to the bench.
- On Tuesday, I'm going back to work. I will be in court first thing in the morning- judge Morawiec said in an interview with Wyborcza.
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