13% spike in valid complaints against judges
By YONAH JEREMY BOB
"The danger of having an unfit judge is no less than having an unfit surgeon," says former Supreme Court justice Goldberg.
The Representative for Public Complaints Against Judges, retired Supreme Court
Justice Eliezer Goldberg, on Tuesday presented his 2012 annual report which
noted a 13 percent spike in complaints against judges that had been found to be
Regarding the phenomenon of unfit judges continuing to sit on the
bench, Goldberg said that, “the danger of having an unfit judge is no less than
that of having an unfit surgeon.”
A valid complaint indicates that the
judge made one of a variety of possible errors.
presented the report to Supreme Court President Asher D. Grunis and Justice
Minister Yaakov Neeman and the Justice Ministry distributed the report to the
Many see the report as a rebuke to Grunis for allegedly protecting
some unfit judges from being removed from the bench, worrying that they would
get much lower pensions for not serving until retirement age.
the Movement for the Rule of Law in the Land of Israel succeeded in unearthing
protocols of certain closed-door sessions of the Judicial Appointments Committee
in which Grunis was quoted as saying that the phenomenon of unfit judges
continuing on the bench was a “ticking bomb.”
Grunis also said in the
protocol that “the public was paying a price” for the phenomenon, but that there
was no quick solution, as removing judges early would seriously harm their
A court spokesman later clarified that Grunis’ words were taken
out of context and that, in any event, only the Knesset Finance Committee could
make certain larger decisions about judges’ pensions, which could help resolve
The complaints’ report said that in 2012, 101 out of 930
complaints were found to be valid, whereas in 2011 only 89 out of 968 were
Of the 101 valid complaints, the largest group, 37, were for
dragging proceedings on for too long, or for too long a delay in issuing a
The other categories of valid complaints were: 25 judges whose
conduct was improper, 21 who made procedural legal errors, 16 who offended the
sensibilities of justice and two who acted improperly outside of the
The largest group, 47% of the valid complaints, 48 in total,
were against magistrate court judges and other “lower” courts, such as family,
traffic and municipal.
There were 16 valid complaints against family
courts, 13 against rabbinic courts, nine against labor courts, and only 12 and
three against district courts and the Supreme Court respectively.
interview with Israel Radio, Goldberg said that aspects of the judicial system,
such as the widespread phenomenon of extreme delays, cannot be fixed with small
changes “here and there, but require a root canal.”
He also said that it
was “unthinkable” for a judge who was unfit to stay on the bench simply because
of his personal financial considerations.
“Pensions are not a factor, and
there is no place to put the personal needs of the judge above those of the
public,” Goldberg said.