New overseer of Justice Ministry files her first report

Gristol on Sunday sent the report to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein, who has some powers over her division and was involved in appointing her.

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February 2, 2015 02:04
2 minute read.
Judges preside in court

Judges preside in court (Illustrative). (photo credit: ILLUSTRATIVE: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

 
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Hila Gristol, the Justice Ministry’s first head of a department overseeing and critiquing 3,417 state prosecutors’ and advisory lawyers’ decisions, was set to publish early Monday her first report summarizing her efforts.

Gristol on Sunday sent the report to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein, who has some powers over her division and was involved in appointing her.

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The new oversight czar described difficulties in evaluating the performance of prosecutors during her first year, as the prosecutors united against the oversight and went on strike against cooperating with her department.

Gristol then tried to minimize the impact of the strike, saying that heads of district attorneys’ offices and attorneys from the national litigation department had cooperated with her and provided her with most of the information she needed.

The report focuses on the period from April 1, 2014, the day Gristol’s department opened, to December 31, 2014.

The report said that while most of her department is up and running, she is still in the process of hiring and building the department, which she hopes to be finished with “in the coming months.”

The report covers issues such as uniformity in implementing guidelines, transparency, professional ethics, efficiency and ideas for improvements.



As of January 1, her authority was extended to reviewing the actions of the police’s prosecution unit, also with regard to transportation-related offenses.

A major issue the report honed in on was the speed with which government lawyers notified suspects that they were in the clear after closing cases against them, in order to promote a culture in which suspects learn faster that a cloud of wrongdoing has been lifted from them.

Future reports will also cover protection of victims’ rights, hearings, false testimony and evidence and the state filing defenses to civil lawsuits in a timely manner.

The report said that the department received 210 complaints, of which 151 – or 72 percent – have been addressed.

Seventy-seven percent of the complaints were against prosecutors, with the other 23% being against other state lawyers and appointed representatives.

Of the complaints addressed, 38% were rejected outright, while 23% were rejected after clarification and initial review or are awaiting Weinstein’s approval regarding an ongoing case.

One case that Gristol started to review but then stopped upon Weinstein’s directive that the case cannot be reviewed until it has concluded, is a spin-off from Roman Zadorov’s appeal of his conviction for the murder of Tair Rada.

As part of Zadorov’s appeal, multiple medical experts were called by the state and by Zadorov to strengthen their cases, with Zadorov’s expert, a state employee, being penalized by the state for taking the defense’s side.

Gristol was due to review a complaint by the penalized defense expert and the alleged impropriety of one state lawyer representing both the expert, the state agency that penalized her and the other medical expert whom the state allegedly wanted to use to replace her in her position, who appeared to have significant conflicts of interest.

In December 2006, Rada was found stabbed to death in a bathroom stall at the Nofei Golan school in Katzrin on the Golan Heights.

Zadorov, the school custodian, was arrested less than a week later and was found guilty of 13-year-old Rada’s murder in September 2010.

He was sentenced by the Nazareth court to life imprisonment plus two years for obstruction of justice.

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