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Poland's Constitutional Breakdown$
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Wojciech Sadurski

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198840503

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198840503.001.0001

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Dismantling Checks and Balances (II): Judges and Prosecutors

Dismantling Checks and Balances (II): Judges and Prosecutors

Chapter:
(p.96) 4 Dismantling Checks and Balances (II): Judges and Prosecutors
Source:
Poland's Constitutional Breakdown
Author(s):

Wojciech Sadurski

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198840503.003.0004

After transforming the Constitutional Tribunal (CT) into an active ally of the government, the Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (PiS)) party in Poland embarked upon the comprehensive subjection of the entire judicial system to the executive, and in particular to the president of the Republic and the minister of justice/prosecutor general (MJ/PG). This chapter discusses how, for this purpose, the National Council of Judiciary (Krajowa Rada Sądownictwa (KRS)) was packed with the party faithful thanks to a changed system for selecting members of the KRS (they are now directly elected by Parliament, rather than by judges). It also deals with how the effect of the new law on the Supreme Court was a brand new court composition with a pro-PiS majority: this was created by combining early retirement for incumbent judges and increasing the number of seats on the Court. The chief justice’s constitutionally guaranteed term of office has been extinguished. It also looks at another statute, on the common courts, that has strengthened the power of the MJ to control court presidents, and hold judges accountable for their verdicts through a new disciplinary procedure. Finally, the chapter looks at how the prosecutorial system (prokuratura) was merged with that of the MJ, with the MJ becoming the ex officio PG, producing a deeply politicized system of public prosecution.

Keywords:   Poland, Supreme Court, National Council of Judiciary, ordinary courts, common courts, prosecutor general, prokuratura, disciplinary procedure

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