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Courts lighting bolt PiS Poland Commentary

Polish court defends lightning bolt symbol on mask of female employee

If the political war has moved into the courtroom, then do we still have a chance of receiving just verdicts, asks Marzena Nykiel

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Marzena Nykiel

Judges are questioning the results of democratic elections at anti-government protests, lawyers are guaranteeing impunity for street militias, and judiciary staff are clearly manifesting their political affiliations. The recent decision of a Gdańsk court does not offer up any hope for change. Although it concerns only a clerk, a court reporter, it shows just how far the political engagement of people who should be guaranteeing impartiality reaches.

A court reporter, during a trial at Gdańsk District Court, presented herself in a face mask with a lightning bolt — a symbol of the Women’s Strike. Although the prosecutor demanded her exclusion, the court decreed that she may continue carrying out her duties. Why? Because, according to the court, “the prosecutor had not pointed out any reasons that would convey that the court reporter expressing her social views in court realistically and objectively raised any doubts as to her impartiality in the case.”

The court reporter can, therefore, paint a lightning bolt on her mask and no one can do anything about it. The same would’ve probably happened had she used other anti-government slogans, such as “f*ck PiS.”

“The court noted that the role of a court reporter in reporting a trial is primarily technical in character. Writing down court proceedings is conducted under the constant supervision of the head of the adjudicating bench, and, in this case, the possibility of potential influence of a court report on the procedure was heavily restricted,” the court’s spokesman Tomasz Adamski stated.

Although it is true that a court reporter carries out only technical functions, it does not change the fact that she introduced specific symbols of a radical feminist, aggressive and anarchist organization into the courtroom. This is an organization whose goal, as expressed many times by its leader, is to remove the current government.

This raises further questions: Does the judge who accepts such a political manifestation of a court reporter’s views also share her world view?

If so, then is the court able to maintain impartiality in a case, when it is ruling in the trial of someone standing on the other side of the political barricade?

The politicization of the judiciary is a known fact. Since the very first days of Law and Justice (PiS) taking power, the result of democratic elections has been questioned. The same judges who are fighting for supposed “freedom of the courts” are opposing the government and supporting the opposition, even when the opposition commits radical attacks. How many judges tied up in such political associations are conveying their twisted attitudes to the next generation?

One of the positive changes recently introduced has been the obligation for judges to file statements concerning their membership and affiliations with organizations and associations. This way, at least we can know with whom we are dealing with when standing in front of a court to fight for our rights. But this is not enough.

We can see, that the fight is heating up even more. If today, we are dealing with an open, court-supported acceptance of politicization in the courtroom, what will come next?

If the political war has moved into the courtroom, then do we still have a chance of receiving just verdicts?