Female judge in sex-for-judgeship scandal takes indefinite leave

A spokeswoman for the courts could not confirm or deny whether the indefinite leave meant that the judge, whose name is under gag order, was finished in the judiciary.

By
January 20, 2019 17:41
3 minute read.
Efi Naveh appears in court, January 16th, 2019

Efi Naveh appears in court, January 16th, 2019. (photo credit: REUVEN CASTRO)

 
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The female magistrate’s court judge suspect in the sex for judgeships scandal announced on Sunday on her own initiative that she would take indefinite leave from the bench.

A spokeswoman for the courts could not confirm or deny whether the indefinite leave meant that the judge, whose name is under gag order, was finished in the judiciary.

Her decision follows Efi Nave’s resignation as Israel Bar Association president on Thursday in the wake of the “Sex for Judgeships Affair” for which he is under criminal investigation.

The Police Lahav 433 Fraud Investigation Unit have questioned Nave and two other suspects for involvement in a scheme of promoting judicial candidates in exchange for sexual favors.

Naveh is suspected of having a sexual relationship with a female lawyer appointed as a magistrate’s judge, as well as another female lawyer whose husband is a magistrate’s judge and was seeking  promotion to become a district judge.

"I hereby announce my resignation as President of the Bar Association. I decided to do so because the association is very important and precious to me," said Nave in a statement as well as wishing his successor success.

New elections are due to be held within between 30 to 45 days.

Lawyer Uri Keinan will serve as acting president in the interim.

On Sunday, Israel Bar Association National Council Chairman Chava Merzki opened an emergency meeting of the body, originally set to remove Nave if he did not quit on his own, calling on the body to learn lessons from the case.

At the same time, Merzki said that the IBA had weathered crises in the past and was mostly made up of a large number of ethical and seasoned lawyers who give back to the profession and to their communities.

Late Sunday, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked interviewed on Channel 12 about the Nave saga, defending herself against calls for her resignation due to her political alliance with Nave in the selection of judges.

Shaked lashed out at her critics, claiming that in a prior scandal with an Israel Bar Association official who had formed an alliance with judges on the Judicial Selection Committee, no one called for the judges to resign because of their association with the IBA official.

She said that she should not be attacked either and was only being attacked because left-wing officials are upset over her success at appointing conservative justices to the Supreme Court – which she said is perfectly legal.

Overall, she said that she trusts the police to find the truth at the heart of the case and that even if Nave committed criminal acts, his actions should not put the hundreds of proper judicial appointments which she, six Supreme Court justices and other officials made, in a negative light. 

Shaked, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut and a number of other prominent members of the Judicial Selection Committee have or are expected to give testimony to police as fact witnesses.

A number of legal issues have arisen around the case, the latest of which is whether law enforcement will be allowed to use evidence from Nave’s telephone against him as that evidence may have been acquired illegally.

Also, over the weekend new allegations were raised against Nave for possibly trying to help a law student pass the bar exam’s requirements in exchange for success.

Last week, Nave’s lawyer Boaz Ben Tzur presented Nave’s narrative which deemphasized the specifics of his relationships with the two women, while emphasizing that regardless of the relationships, he was not involved in issues relating to the judges’ advancement.

Police at the hearing replied that Nave essentially controlled two members of the Judicial Selection Committee who represented the bar association and may have had a strong influence on others.

Former Tel Aviv District Court Deputy President Oded Mudrick told the Jerusalem Post on Thursday that, “I know from experience that the start of an investigation is not the same as the end. Maybe it will end up not as bad with” the main suspects having committed “bad acts, but criminal ones.”

Addressing some of the specific factual arguments, Mudrick said that “even if you can prove a romantic connection, it does not prove one of the suspects talked to the other about a bribe for being a judge…It raises the suspicion, so it needs to be checked, but maybe it is just a case of regular ‘protexia’ [favortism for friends]…then it would be problematic, but not illegal.” 

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