WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS IN POLAND
From the Communist Era to the Rechtstaat Experience
EMIL W. PLYWACZEWSKI, ADAM GÓRSKI,
AND ANDRZEJ SAKOWICZ
Before assessing research on wrongful convictions in modern Poland, some general background information on the country and its criminal justice system may be helpful. Poland is one of the larger countries in central Europe, sharing borders with Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, and the Kaliningrad region of the Russian Federation. With a surface area of 312,683 square kilometers (120,725 square miles) stretching some 650 kilometers (405 miles) from north to south and 690 kilometers (430 miles) from east to west, Poland ranks seventh in size among countries in Europe. The population of Poland is 38.659 million, placing Poland eighth among European countries and thirty-eighth in the world.
In Poland, there were 7,304 lawyers as of 2001; of these, 5,300 were practicing. Law is also practiced by legal advisers, who primarily provide legal services to the poor. There are about 15,000 legal advisers in Poland, who can represent clients in court in certain fields, including criminal trials. Only about 7,000 legal advisers may work with individual clients (persons); the rest work in the business sector and in public administration.
Poland has a typical continental criminal justice system. The judiciary consists of a Supreme Court, common courts, administrative courts, and military courts.
The Supreme Court is the cassation court, located in Warsaw. The court handles cassation, which is a legal redress directed against sentences or decisions of courts of appeals. Petitions of cassation are limited to technical legal