Chenoweth_An Allegory in Court_102313.doc

Chenoweth_An Allegory in Court_102313.doc - An Allegory in...

This preview shows 1 out of 2 pages.

An Allegory in Court by Eric Chenoweth I testified in a Polish court recently. That in itself is not unusual. I saw many people in the hallways of the administrative court building waiting to testify in various proceedings. But my testimony was unusual. I am an American, living in New York, without any claims of interest under Polish law. I was summoned to make known what I knew in a minor, strange, and inexplicable proceeding that serves as an allegory for corruption and a warning for anyone with an interest in democracy, the rule of law, and human decency. The proceeding is truly strange and inexplicable. After ten years, two directors of a Polish non- profit organization are resuming a legal claim in labor court against the organization’s president for unlawful termination. In most countries, one would think there would be a statute of limitations in such a case. But somehow, here in Poland, it is possible not only to suspend a claim, but to resume it at any time, even in a minor labor dispute. The strangeness and inexplicability of the case, however, arises from the circumstances. For one, there is simply no basis for the claim. The two directors, Malgorzata Naimska and Urszula Doroszewska, were fired from their jobs for gross incompetence and malfeasance: they repeatedly violated the statutes and bylaws of the organization; they acted in complete insubordination of the authority of the president of the organization; they took loans using non- existent future grants as collateral; manufactured fictitious receipts to use another grant provided illegally to repay the loan; commingled grant funds to pay exorbitant salaries and benefits; generally spent beyond the organization’s means and used the organization to benefit themselves, friends, and family; and ultimately caused the bankruptcy of one of Poland’s most prestigious non-governmental organizations. In short, the directors had been running the non-profit equivalent of a Ponzi scheme: paying past debts with current grants and taking loans hoping for future grants. It requires some chutzpah to make a claim of wrongful termination against the weight of such facts. Secondly, the claim made in this case is against Irena Lasota, a legend of Poland’s — and Eastern Europe’s — democracy movement. After two years of being deceived by these directors, people whom she thought she could trust, Ms. Lasota was forced to act: she suspended the directors and the activities of the organization, asked one of Poland’s most prominent human rights activists to investigate the finances and activities, and, based on that investigation, ultimately had to order the dismissal of the directors (and all the employees) and the closure of the organization because enormous debts had been assumed with no ability to repay them — under Polish law, the organization was “liquidated.” The sense of betrayal was profound. The organization, the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe Foundation (Fundacja IDEE in Polish), had played an important role in Poland’s
Image of page 1

Subscribe to view the full document.

Image of page 2
You've reached the end of this preview.
  • Fall '08
  • KLIN
  • Democracy, Fundacja IDEE, Irena Lasota

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern