The State Attorney’s Office admitted on Thursday that prosecutors had made a
mistake in striking a too-lenient plea bargain with the drunk driver who struck
14-year-old Shachar Greenspan and left her paralyzed, but that it was in the
public interest to maintain the plea bargain system.
The admission came
in a formal written response to a High Court of Justice petition that
Greenspan’s parents filed in January against what they said was an
“unreasonable” plea bargain between the police’s legal department and Mark
Patrick, the drunk driver.
In November 2009, Patrick swerved his car onto
a Netanya sidewalk and hit then-12-year-old Greenspan as she stood with a
Her friend was lightly injured, but Greenspan suffered severe
head trauma, and doctors doubted she would live. She survived, but is a
quadriplegic who can only communicate via eye movement.
In a March 2011
ruling that outraged Greenspan’s family and road safety groups, Petah Tikva
Traffic Court Judge Tal Ostfeld- Navy accepted a plea bargain Patrick’s defense
team struck with the police, sentencing him to six months’ community service and
a fine of NIS 1,000, and revoking his driver’s license for six years.
their High Court petition, Greenspan’s parents, Israel and Nechama, say the plea
bargain is “unreasonable, disproportionate, contrary to public interest and
against all sense of natural justice.”
“In these very moments, when the
young girl is fighting every day to make even minimal physical actions, to move,
to blink her eye, in order to communicate, the defendant is completely free and
has moved on with his life as if nothing ever happened,” the petition
In its response to the court on Thursday, the State Attorney’s
Office and the attorney- general said the plea bargain had been “erroneous” and
that his punishment was “far too lenient.”
The punishment was “not
suitable for the acts to which he pleaded guilty and in relation to their harsh
consequences,” the State Attorney’s Office said.
It also said that an
audit of the incident had found “deficiencies” in the police’s handling of the
case’s prosecution, but noted that this did not mean the High Court should rule
in favor of the petition.
The State Attorney’s Office additionally noted
that since that plea bargain, it had refreshed its guidelines to prevent similar
incidents occurring in the future.
However, it said in its response that
it was not possible to revoke the plea bargain, since “the ruling has been made
and it is no longer possible to appeal.”
Greenspan’s parents say police
did not inform them of the plea bargain, despite requests that they be kept
updated. The plea bargain was presented to the court without their knowledge,
“The plea bargain was ‘achieved’ contrary to proper
administrative procedures,” they argue in the petition, adding that they believe
there is a “real suspicion about the involvement of extraneous
In its response, however, the State Attorney’s Office
added that the public’s interest was in maintaining the system of plea bargains,
and therefore asked the court to reject the petition.
State Attorney’s Office said the respondents had learned lessons from the
mistakes made in the Greenspan case, and was implementing them.
final analysis, the respondents wish to express their sorrow for the pain caused
to the petitioners, and to give them strength in coping with the injuries caused
to Shachar,” it said.
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