A major shift in power within Poland’s Supreme Court has occurred after the six-year term of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Małgorzata Gersdorf concluded last Thursday, April 30. Previously, Gersdorf had been outspoken opponent of the conservative government’s judicial reforms.
In accordance with the Supreme Court bill, President Andrzej Duda entrusted judge Kamil Zaradkiewicz with fulfilling the responsibilities of the chief justice until a new one is elected.
Zaradkiewicz has called for a general assembly of Supreme Court judges this coming Friday to choose candidates for the position of chief justice.
Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro considers Zaradkiewicz to possess a wealth of experience as a judge.
He added that Zaradkiewicz was able to give critical opinions about the actions of some of the judiciary’s elite who engaged in politics and tried to block the nomination of Constitutional Court judges.
Ziobro stated that Zaradkiewicz had proven his courage as a member of the Supreme Court, saying, “This is a man who came from different political-academic background than those with whom PiS normally cooperates with. This gives further credit to the president’s decision to entrust him with these responsibilities.”
The minister also hoped that former judge Gersdorf’s departure from the Supreme Court will end the “bad period” in the court’s functioning.
“Gersdorf, as former chief justice, wanted to choose who will replace her. That is unlawful,” Ziobro stressed.
Removal of portraits of communists era chief justices
As his first ordinance, Zaradkiewicz removed the portraits communist-era chief justices from the Supreme Court building.
Zaradkiewicz wrote in his statement that during the reign of communist authorities until 1990, the independent Polish judiciary of the free Polish state had not functioned.
“Persons performing the duties of judges had been bereft of basic independence guarantees which were specifically not provided to them by the most important representatives of judiciary authorities,” he explained.