What could justify David Heshin, President of the Jerusalem District Court, being the most influential legal person of the year, beating out justices on the Supreme Court for example? Heshin led the three judge panel that on Thursday ordered new elections in Beit Shemesh and nullified the October election results based on allegations of massive fraud.
Not only was the historic ruling completely unprecedented in its impact – in that most prior election fraud challenges were limited to individual voting stations – but his choice to take the initiative and his legal reasoning were genuinely daring.
The opinion itself admits that the issue has little precedent and many judges would have written an opinion sympathetic to those complaining of fraud, but refused to intervene, saying that only the Supreme Court could create such a new precedent.
Heshin did not wait. Not only that, rather than limiting his reasoning to saying that he was ordering new elections because he believed mathematically that enough votes might have been fraudulent to change the result, he also justified his ruling on the broader and bolder basis that democratic legitimacy must be maintained as a value.
This ruling may deter future mass fraud campaigns, and should they recur, will give future courts a wider basis to order new elections even if it is hard to gather the full mathematical substance and evidence of the fraud.
A nephew of former Deputy Supreme Court president Mishael Heshin, David has had other noteworthy rulings and even served for most of 2006 as an acting Supreme Court Justice.
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