Improper conduct and speech in the courtroom
The head of the criminal forum of the Israel Bar complained on behalf of several lawyers against a judge who allegedly threatened them that if they did not plead guilty on behalf of their clients to the facts included in the indictments; the judge would impose court costs on the lawyers themselves and complain against them to the Bar's Ethics Committee. Strasberg-Cohen ruled that it was improper for a judge to threaten to impose personal costs on a lawyer and that this constituted "unfair pressure" on the lawyer and his client to give up their lawful right to conduct a proper defense.
A litigant complained about a judge who said, "it's too bad the file didn't sink along with the yacht." In her defense, the judge said she was only kidding. Strasberg-Cohen said her words were not taken as a joke and that they were inappropriate.
Improper expression in a ruling or decision
A lawyer complained about a statement written by the registrar of a district court in which he wrote, "I stand here astonished by the nonsense that honorable lawyers are ready to waste their time and mine writing on nicely bound pages which include mountains of words serving no purpose." The ombudswoman wrote that if the judge wanted to tell the lawyer his response was too long or not to the point, he should have said it in such a way as not to hurt him personally.
Creation of an atmosphere of pressure or coercion
A judge suggested to a litigant to withdraw his complaint without having to pay costs, warning him that if he did not do so voluntarily, the judge would impose five-figure court costs on him. The ombudswoman accepted the complaint, saying that a judge should not use "a threatening tone" to avoid applying inappropriate pressure.
Delays in Scheduling Court Hearings
One person complained that a district court case, which began in 1996 had still not been completed 10 years later. The ombudswoman found that several judges had been responsible for the file at one time or another. The last judge had held only seven of 17 scheduled hearings on the case. The ombudswoman concluded that the proceedings had been unacceptably prolonged. As a result, several hearings have since been held in close proximity and significant progress has been made.
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