Józef Skorżyński


Józef Skorżyński

Józef Skorżyński was born on 2 December 1878 in Radom. After leaving grammar school, he attended the Faculty of Law at Warsaw University, graduating with a ‘candidate of legal science’ degree and then commenced judicial apprentice-ship at the District Court in Radom. He passed the judicial exam in 1907, after which he started work in courts in what was then tsarist Russia, holding the post of investigating judge in Kursk, Kharkov and other towns from 1909 onwards.

After Poland regained independence, he was appointed an investigating judge at the District Court in Warsaw in 1920, and then, in 1927, an appeal investigating judge for cases of exceptional significance. At the same time, Skorżyński was assigned the task of establishing a ‘research institute serving the administration of justice’ by the Minister of Justice. Judge Skorżyński set to work gaining necessary funds, establishing contacts, employing scientists with appropriate qualifications, finding a site for the nascent institute, and refurbishing and equipping it - this preparatory stage lasted until 1929. In May 1929 Department I of Physico-Chemical Research was set up at the new institute, and on 25 May 1929, the Minister of Justice appointed its creator, Judge Józef Skorżyński, Director of the Institute of Forensic Research.

In addition to his regular duties, Józef Skorżyński, as a highly respected and experienced investigating judge, carried out a series of functions and tasks linked to investigations at the behest of the Minister of Justice, in his capacity as Attorney General. The scope of these tasks sometimes extended beyond the borders of Poland: he was involved, for example in “the fight against professional banknotes forgery and their release into circulation in Poland and abroad”, and participated in the inter-ministerial commission investigating the cause of a German transit train crash near Gdansk. Not infrequently, such cases involved international travel on the part of Judge Skorżyński.
In 1930 he received the Commander Cross of the Order Polonia Restituta for his professional activities, and in 1937 the Gold Cross of Merit.

His work was interrupted by the outbreak of WWII; on 6 September 1939, the institute ceased to function. After liberation in 1945, as appeal investigating judge for cases of exceptional significance, he was called upon to carry out duties at the Ministry of Justice, and then, in the same year, he was appointed to work as a member of the Commission for the Investigation of Nazi War Crimes in Poland. As a member of the commission, Judge J Skorżyński carried out all sorts of research and investigative work, supplying evidence materials for Polish trials of German war criminals, and also materials to be used as the basis for extradition orders.

He died on 31 August 1959 at the age of 80, having remained professionally active to the end of his days.

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