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Head of Poland's top court urges law change after EU censure

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The head of Poland’s top court is appealing to the country’s president and senior figures for changes to the law on disciplining judges that has been criticized by the European Union.

Four letters written to those dignitaries by the Supreme Court’s first president, Judge Malgorzata Manowska, were published on the court’s website Friday.

The EU Court of Justice said earlier this month that the way Poland is disciplining its judges undermines judicial independence and contravenes EU law, because it is politicized. Poland joined the EU in 2004.

It has told Poland’s government, which drew up the regulations, to immediately suspend the disciplinary body at the Supreme Court and introduce changes, under threat of financial and other sanctions.

Adding to the growing conflict with the EU over Poland’s rule of law and organization of the judiciary, the government has ignored the injunctions, arguing it has sole responsibility for the justice system.

In her letters to President Andrzej Duda, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, and to the speakers of both parliament chambers, government loyalist Manowska appealed for “swift but first of all well-thought-through changes to the law” that would remove the flaws and bring it into line with European law.

The four figures have the powers to propose and enact legislation.

Manowska appealed to them to protect the “common good that is Poland” and said that the judicial dispute with the EU has paralyzed disciplinary proceedings.

Earlier this week, 47 of the Supreme Court judges, along with thousands of other judges and prosecutors, have signed an appeal for the government to heed the EU court’s rulings and immediately suspend the Disciplinary Chamber.

Under the right-wing government that won power in 2015, Poland has been in an intensifying dispute with the EU as the government asserts more political control over the nation’s judicial system and judicial appointments.

Poland’s Constitutional Court ruled last week that that temporary injunctions issued by the EU court regarding the national judiciary were nonbinding. One of them was an injunction for the suspension of the body disciplining high judges.

However, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said last week that he would not exclude the possibility of a review of the Disciplinary Chamber, saying it has not met all the expectations placed in it. A number of judges critical of the government have been suspended under the procedure, but the suspensions have been declared illegal by some lower courts, who questioned the authority of the disputed disciplinary body.

Monika Scislowska, The Associated Press