POSTS BY Luc von Danwitz

Defamation of Justice – Propositions on how to evaluate public attacks against the Judiciary

Public debate is an essential element of a democratic society. While this debate should not spare the judiciary, public attacks against the judiciary of a critical intensity can be observed in several European countries. The most recent example originates from Poland, where, in September 2017, a campaign on bill boards and on the internet was launched in support of the controversial draft acts on judicial reform. The campaign portrays judges as a "privileged cast" and as being corrupt, criminal and incompetent. Having regard to these events, it should be borne in mind that attacks against the judiciary from members of the legislative and executive can pose real threats to judicial independence and the separation of powers. This post takes these considerations as the starting point for a general discussion on how to properly evaluate public criticism of the judiciary. We suggest a frame of reference which seeks to balance the right of free speech and the legitimate interest of the judiciary to not have its legitimacy and independence abridged by political actors. In this regard, we argue that the level of scrutiny must depend on where such criticism comes from.

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The Polish Judiciary Reform: Problematic under European standards and a Challenge for Germany

The latest efforts of the Polish government to reform the judiciary have met with fierce criticism both nationally and internationally. A new legislation concerning the National Council for the Judiciary has recently been introduced to the Polish Parliament and awaits deliberation. The approach the Polish government has chosen is indeed problematic in the light of European standards for Councils for the Judiciary – but so is the German model of selecting judges, which the Polish governments explicitly refers to as a point of reference for their reform.

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