Only independent court can hold judge criminally liable says CJEU official
The advocate general of the European Court of Justice (CJEU) has said that a judge can only be brought to justice by an independent court, in an opinion issued on the case of a Polish judge who has become a figurehead for the opposition in Poland to changes to the country’s judicial system.
Anthony Michael Collins ruled in his opinion concerning Igor Tuleya, which was delivered on Thursday, that a judge could be held criminally liable only after this has been approved by an independent court established in accordance with the law.
Tuleya was suspended by a now abolished judicial disciplinary body that was accused of lacking independence from political interference.
According to the CJEU advocate general, EU Treaties are in contradiction to national laws which make it possible for a court, which is not independent and not established under the law, to make a judge face justice, detain them or suspend them from their post.
The CJEU may approve the opinion issued by the advocate general, and this is usually the case, or issue a completely different verdict.
Collins also said that the Polish Supreme Court law of 2019 violated EU laws.
On November 29 this year, Poland's Supreme Court annulled the suspension of Tuleya, who had been fiercely critical of the government's changes to the country’s judicial system, and did not approve his detention so that he could be brought before a prosecutor.
Tuleya, who is facing charges for an alleged criminal breach of laws protecting the secrecy of an investigation, has become a symbol of opposition to an overhaul of the judicial system that critics claim undermines the rule of law.
According to a judge of the Supreme Court, Tuleya had been acting within the limits and on the basis of the law.
The Supreme Court annulled the ruling of the then Disciplinary Chamber which had suspended Tuleya and lowered his remuneration.
The Supreme Court also said that it was possible to renew proceedings regarding Tuleya's immunity.
Tuleya was stripped of his immunity in November, 2020 by the then Supreme Court's Disciplinary Chamber, which was set up to deal with judges who behave unethically or break the law, and those who questioned the legitimacy of the government-reformed National Council of the Judiciary (KRS), the body which nominates judges.
The prosecution had repeatedly asked Tuleya to testify but he had refused to be questioned, having said that he had not considered the Disciplinary Chamber a court and its decisions as valid.
The Disciplinary Chamber was liquidated in the summer of 2022, and replaced with the Chamber of Professional Responsibility.