Tuesday, April 13, 2021
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Access to judges’ decisions as a tool of civic evaluation of judicial power

The repair of Polish courts requires a shift from administrative and political supervision of judges to civic supervision of judges. For two decades, all political options have tried to repair the courts by intensifying administrative oversight. These attempts were unsuccessful. They gave more reporting and procedures. But it did not make the courts more efficient and just.

The reason for these failures is simple: the intensification of administrative supervision has not increased the accountability of the judiciary. They did not create incentives and opportunities for judges to gradually improve the courts every day. They only expanded the reporting system.

We can sabotage administrative supervision and reporting in Poland. The judges have well learned the ability to dismiss a case on formalities in order to have it statistically settled and not formally recognize it.

Ministerial and administrative accounting has no chance of working in the post-PRR social and political order. In theory, different authorities may supervise each other to varying degrees or be supervised by citizens. There have been periods in the history of European states when the executive supervision of judges provided efficient and fair courts for a given time. The way courts are organized in many Western European countries is a relic of these socio-political relations.

But in post-communist Poland, the executive does not have and nothing indicates that it would have permission to actually account for the power of judges. Further enhancement of the administrative supervision over the courts will be a sham action. More reporting and more computerization did not and will not bring more efficiency and justice. Because there is no real control ability behind them: establishing a positive pattern of judgment and enforcing behavior consistent with this pattern.

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Today, only the increased supervision of citizens over judges can improve Polish courts. Autonomous judges in their actions, but supervised by citizens, thanks to increased transparency in the exercise of their powers, can gradually improve the courts.

Part of the increased transparency of judges ‘power must be that everyone can access the full text of judges’ decisions via the internet. Judges exercise their power through judgments and decisions. The assessment of judges’ authority, if it is to be a realistic assessment, must consist in access to the content of the judgments (along with the justifications) and decisions with the parties to the case.

Unfortunately, only some judgments are published in Poland at present. Those that are published are deprived of information about the parties to the proceedings before publication (the so-called anonymization), even when the party to the dispute is the authority!

To speed up the day when court documents will be available to us, I give:

– a brief statement of the reasons why we need more transparency in the form of easy access to all decisions of all judges,

– an assessment of the arguments raised against greater transparency in courts and

– outline of other countries’ practice.



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