Shaked hints at changes to judges’ selection to confront criticism of homogeneity

Shaked referenced the recent criticism of the judges’ course as being in place solely to weed out conservatives who do not fit the court’s liberal bend.

August 31, 2015 19:57
2 minute read.
Ayelet Shaked, nouvelle ministre de la Justice

Ayelet Shaked, nouvelle ministre de la Justice. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked appeared on Monday to hint that changes had been made to the judges’ preparation course following criticism that the seminar – part of the process for selecting which judges to promote up the judicial chain – was being abused by liberal judges to vet out conservative colleagues.

Remarking at the annual judges’ conference at the Ramada Hotel in Jerusalem, Shaked said that the Israel Bar Association was now cooperating with the courts on the issue and that looking into the issue would hopefully lead to the appointment of more ideologically diverse judges.

Shaked’s spokesman, however, did not reply when asked to clarify exactly what changes had been made. In a speech by Supreme Court President Miriam Naor at the same conference, it appeared that no changes had been made and that Naor flatly rejected all the charges of improper vetting.

In her speech, Shaked referenced the recent criticism of the judges’ course as being in place solely to weed out conservatives who do not fit the court’s liberal bend. “I believe that the judicial establishment...needs to manifest the heterogeneity of Israeli society,” she said.

Shaked called the course a unique phenomenon worldwide and stated that it must give equal chances to those lawyers coming to the judicial branch from the “public and private sectors.”

She added that in light of the recent criticism, judges must “regain the public’s confidence on the issue.”

But in her most striking statement, she hinted at changes having been made, saying, “I am happy with the cooperation created between the Judicial Administration and the Israel Bar Association and I believe that inclusion of additional officials in the judges’ preparation course will assist in advancing equality and transparency.”

In contrast, Naor rejected the criticism and said that no changes have been made to the judicial selection process since it was amended in 2007.

She explained that the purpose of the preparatory course was to address criticism that originated around a decade ago stating that many magistrate-level judges were getting passed over for promotion to a district court simply because the Supreme Court president did not know them sufficiently well.

Part of the interviews that take place at the event are held to enable the country’s top judge, or at least two former judges advising her, to get to know more judges since her job keeps her too busy to review all of the 414 magistrate judges’ opinions in addition to records from the 188 district court positions.

Naor also told the conference that when she first interviewed to be a judge, she explained that she wanted to be a judge in order to give the right and correct decision based on an objective review of the issues – which she said is the only standard that judges are held to when seeking promotion.

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