I have always wanted to be able to influence the world around me — make things that I consider just and right happen and prevent the harmful and erroneous ones from happening. This has always motivated me to learn and work. Today, my Attorney licence, interdisciplinary view of reality, as well as the possibilities I have thanks to the Allerhand Institute, allow me to exercise this influence — sometimes successfully.
I managed to lead to the creation at the Allerhand Institute of public interest law programs for pro publico bono engagements reaching beyond research and education activities. These programs emerge from conceptual work, but they take on the form of intervention activities. Good examples of such programs are Allerhand Advocacy — law for public interest and the Constitutional Guard.
Battle lines of the fight for the defended values were drawn through courtrooms and newspaper pages — strategic litigation and cooperation with the media are two main weapons of a pro bono attorney.
Intervention actions were often a team effort, therefore I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to my colleagues, who worked with me on many of the actions undertaken for social, economic, and civil-political causes listed below.
Efforts to remedy the 2015/16 constitutional crisis in Poland
I worked on a strategy for bringing to an end the constitutional crisis, which began in Poland in the Fall of 2015. First, I made a public appeal to the Polish church to take on the role of a mediator. Afterwards, together with my colleague, Dr. Jacek Sokołowski — I prepared and announced a memorial entitled 10 tez o naturze konfliktu, potrzebie kompromisu i kierunku reformy Trybunału Konstytucyjnego [10 theses on the nature of the conflict, the need for compromise, and way of reforming the Constitutional Tribunal], which was signed by 16 non-governmental organizations. The initiative was noticed by the media (such as: Rzeczpospolita, Gazeta Wyborcza, Dziennik Polski, Lex.pl). The theses and diagnoses formulated in 10 theses met with a response from the President of the Republic of Poland, Andrzej Duda who, on March 3, 2016, met with the signatories of the memorial.
I conducted further conceptual works in strict cooperation with Dr. Sokołowski. These works resulted in the creation of drafts of a compromise formula published in Rzeczpospolita and on jagiellonski24.pl . We talked about the ways of ending the crisis also during the seminar entitled Jaki Trybunał? (What Tribunal?) organized by Ars Legis – Saint Ivo Helory, Patron of Lawyers Association, and echoed by the media, among others: Rzeczpospolita, Gość Niedzielny, TVP Kraków i Radio Kraków.
Simultaneously, I tried to explain the nature and the course of the constitutional conflict in Poland to the international readership by publishing a long article on a popular international constitutional law blog – Verfassungsblog.de, and by writing an editorial for the Bucerius Law Journal. I gave a lecture entitled Serious but not hopeless or hopeless but not serious? Ways in and out of the 2015/16 Constitutional Crisis in Poland during the ICON-S conference in Berlin and a guest lecture entitled Recht, Macht und Transformation – Polnische Verfassungskrise von 2015/16 at the Bucerius Law School in Hamburg.
Constitutional review of the threshold for the European Parliament elections
I submitted an application to the Polish Constitutional Tribunal for the review of the constitutionality of the threshold for the European Parliament elections. My opinion, based on comparative constitutional law studies, was presented and reasoned in press articles (among others in: Rzeczpospolita, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna). A 5% threshold – so the argument – may be suitable for national elections, but cannot be justified in the case of European elections. This is why I submitted — in my own name as voter — a constitutional complaint to the Constitutional Tribunal, demanding the deeming of the barrier clause unconstitutional. The Constitutional Tribunal did not share my opinion presented in the complaint and the demands included therein, therefore decided to refuse to pursue the complaint any further, and subsequently, did dismissed the complaint submitted against this decision.
Complaint dated December 2, 2014 against the decision of the CT dated November 19
Legal dispute on the integrity of the referendum campaign related to Kraków’s application for the organization of the Winter Olympic Games
I was the pro bono attorney of the Applicant (Tomasz Leśniak from the civic movement Kraków Przeciw Igrzyskom) in the case brought before the Regional Court in Kraków, subsequently before the Court of Appeals in Kraków, and finally before the Constitutional Tribunal on the legality of the referendum campaign related to Kraków’s application for the organization of the Winter Olympic Games in 2022. The problem was the use of the slogan “because the Olympics are a remedy for smog” and the accessibility of the accelerated application mode (24h referendum mode) as a method of ensuring the integrity of the campaign and referendum agitation. The court proceedings did not lead directly to a success, i.e. obtaining a court’s decision in accordance with Applicant’s demands, but — thanks to the publicity of the case and to the information uncovered via litigation from the Kraków City Council — the case contributed to formation of public opinion regarding the organization of Winter Olympic Games in 2022 in Kraków. Finally, an overwhelming majority of the residents voted against Kraków’s candidature as Olympic Games host, although a few months earlier, the opinion polls indicated that most people would vote in favor of it.
Press release after the Regional Court in Kraków (first instance) issued the decision dated May 20, 2014 on dismissing the application submitted in accordance with Article 35 of the Act on Local Referendum
Press release after submitting a constitutional complaint to the Constitutional Tribunal, asking for a verification of the constitutionality of the regulations regarding the accessibility of court control over the integrity of referendum agitation for the citizens
Legal boundaries of politics of memory
I participated in a public debate on the legal boundaries of politics of memory. This topic comes up mostly in the context of using the misleading term “Polish concentration camps” by the media and public figures. A similar trend can be seen in revising and retouching the history using works of fiction. A German TV series Generation War (ZDF 2013) provoked me to share my opinion on this matter. Magdalena Jabczuga-Kurek, counselor at law, and I wrote three press articles analyzing the problem of the legal responsibility for the infringement of personality rights by the aforementioned series, and the question of jurisdiction of Polish courts in a possible dispute.
Constitutionality of changes in the pension system in Poland (the so-called open pension fund dismantling)
I addressed the discussion on the changes of pension system prepared in 2013 and launched at the turn of 2013 and 2014. I signalized constitutional doubts regarding the way of conducting the reform. I wrote many texts in cooperation with my colleagues — Dr. Łukasz Gorywoda, and Robert Mężyk.
In the past years, I engaged in several other socially important problems, such as:
- Dysfunctional regulations and practices regarding renovations and infrastructural investments, the delays in which lead to transferring a huge part of the costs to local communities and small businesses (so-called externalities), generating high social costs
- Harmful practices in the way of the operation of registry courts that impede the establishment and functioning of non-governmental organizations
- Problem of accessibility of restrooms in bank buildings for clients, in particular for those disadvantaged by health
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