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Palestra 10-2022

Statutory test of independence and impartiality of a judge in criminal cases

The so-called the test of independence and impartiality of a judge, introduced by the Act of 9 June 2022, was supposed to be a remedy for problems of the judiciary related to flaws in the procedure for appointing judges after the amendments to the Act on the National Council of the Judiciary introduced in December 2017. The article analyses the „test” as regulated in Acts on the System of Common Courts and on the Supreme Court. The author concludes that the provisions introducing this test are flawed to a degree that casts doubt on its applicability. Linguistically speaking, in order to guarantee the right to an independent and impartial tribunal, the legislator provided for a procedure which itself is to be capable of infringing the right to a fair trial. Moreover, the numerous of conditions limiting the actual possibility of using the „test” mean that more adequate instruments for examining doubts as to the impartiality of a judge in its institutional aspect include a motion to recuse a judge submitted pursuant to Art. 41(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure or subsequent review of the decision carried out pursuant to Art. 439(1)(2) of the Code. Both ensure that the Convention standard of a fair trial is met to a higher degree.

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