Poland Table of Contents
Reform of the appointment mechanism for justices was a necessity to ensure an independent judiciary. In the communist era, the Council of State appointed Supreme Court justices to five-year terms, making selections on purely political grounds. Because the Supreme Court had jurisdiction over all other courts in the land, the political reliability of its members was an important consideration in appointment decisions. Judicial reform after the Round Table Agreement provided that the president appoint Supreme Court justices from a list prepared by an independent National Judicial Council, and that justices be appointed for life terms. The presiding officer of the Supreme Court, called the first chairman, is appointed from among the Supreme Court justices by the National Assembly upon the recommendation of the president. Dismissal from the chairmanship follows the same procedure.
The Supreme Court reviews the decisions of all lower courts; hears appeals of decisions made by the district courts, along with appeals brought by the minister of justice (who simultaneously serves as the prosecutor general) and the first chairman of the Supreme Court; and adopts legal interpretations and clarifications. The court is organized into four chambers: criminal, civil, labor and social insurance, and military. Because of its heavy case load, the Supreme Court is a large body, employing 117 judges and a staff of 140 persons in late 1990.
Data as of October 1992