Ayalon prison 370.
(photo credit: Reuters)
The High Court of Justice on Wednesday rejected a petition by lawyer Haim
Shtenger seeking a declaration that two major changes to the Detention Law are
The first of the changes to the law attacked by
Shtenger was changing the rule for appealing detentions to the Supreme Court
from being an appeal of right to an appeal only by permission of the
Until now, detainees could appeal a magistrate’s court order of
detention to a district court and then appeal that order all the way to the
Supreme Court automatically.
The new law maintains one automatic round of
appeals to the district court, but says that the Supreme Court can turn down
most detention appeals unless a broader issue is implicated or there is a case
of extreme injustice.
The change could radically reduce the number of
criminal cases that get to the Supreme Court and treats detention appeals more
like civil litigation appeals, which are generally limited to one automatic
The second change is allowing the Supreme Court to extend a
defendant's detention for 150 days past the current nine-month limit.
cases where an indictment has been filed and a defendant has been ordered
detained until the end of the proceedings, the prosecution usually has nine
months to conclude its case.
The idea is that depriving the defendant of
liberty while he has not been convicted of a crime is an extreme measure and
should not go on indefinitely.
While until now, the Supreme Court could
at most, on request from the prosecution, extend preconviction detention for 90
days past the nine months, in extreme cases and if the court believes the
prosecution is moving the case forward at a reasonable pace, it will be able to
extend the detention for 150 days.
Shtenger made two objections to both
changes. First, he said the changes in the law were executed by a defective
procedure, which should render the amendment invalid.
He also argued that
both changes trampled on defendants’ rights to liberty by making it more likely
that more defendants will be detained for longer and will have less recourse to
challenge their detentions.
Supreme Court President Asher D. Grunis said
that while the Knesset’s procedure for passing the amendment was defective, the
defect was limited and did not warrant throwing the law out or a court’s
On the second issue, Grunis said the purpose of the
amendment was to limit the number of cases overburdening the Supreme
He said the purpose was a fitting one and would allow justices to
get to other criminal cases that still reach them at a much faster
Grunis also noted that the change did not eliminate appeals.
Rather, it maintained one round of automatic appeals, as with many other legal
issues, and still left open a potential appeal to the Supreme Court anytime the
court believed hearing it was warranted.
Accordingly, the change did not
violate the defendants’ right to liberty, said Grunis.