Justices, Friedmann squabble over choosing new judges

Friedmann wrote to protest judges' decision not to participate in the election of new justices until the formation of a new government.

By DAN IZENBERG
November 2, 2008 01:26
2 minute read.
Justices, Friedmann squabble over choosing new judges

Daniel Friedmann 248.88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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The three Supreme Court justices who belong to the Judges Election Committee revealed a glimpse of their personal temperaments on Thursday, when each responded to a letter sent the previous day by Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann. Friedmann wrote to protest their decision not to participate in the election of new judges until the formation of a new government after February's elections. Because the law requires a minimum of seven of the nine committee members to elect a judge, the justices' action vetoed a meeting scheduled for November 6 to fill 20 court vacancies. The latest episode in the rocky relations between Friedmann and the justices began on Tuesday, when Beinisch informed the justice minister that the three justices would not attend the meeting. The committee "should not hold meetings whose purpose is to elect new judges in the transitional period until a new government is formed," Beinisch wrote. She said she based her decision on judicial law and proper legal and public policy. The three justices, Beinisch, Ayala Procaccia and Edmond Levy, had refused to vote for new Supreme Court justices during a meeting of the Judges Election Committee on September 22. Friedmann fired back a sharply worded response in which he accused Beinisch of adopting her stance for reasons of prestige. "Postponing the committee meeting for many months will cause grave harm to the judicial system," he warned. "[However], I fear you will prefer the imaginary prestige involved in your stubborn insistence on a mistaken position over the correct one." Beinisch, Procaccia and Levy all responded to Friedmann's letter. Beinisch's was the shortest: "I confirm receipt of your letter from October 29, she wrote." I regret its unworthy tone. I do not see any reason to change my legal position." Procaccia wrote a much longer letter in which, in a completely neutral tone, she presented a legal discourse on the justices' reasons for refusing to elect judges during the period of the caretaker government. Only in the second sentence did she write that she "regretted the letter's spirit and tone." Levy's letter was shorter than Procaccia's, but he pulled no punches. "After thinking it over, I decided to respond since I see in the letter the harsh wording of someone who finds it difficult to accept that a few committee members 'dare' disagree with his point of view. I believe there is no need for me to say, as one who has devoted most of his adult life to the judicial system, that it is dear to me, apparently much more dear than it is to those who came across it as 'momentary guests' and who falsely describe themselves as those who seek its well-being. And what can I do when I see myself as subservient to the authority of the law on the question of appointing judges during this period, as it is interpreted by the Supreme Court. "And even if his honor the minister does not agree with it, he is duty-bound, as a citizen and even more so, as minister of justice, to obey it. [I wrote this letter] in the wake of the attacks from every possible podium against the Supreme Court and its justices, attacks that I believe you should be the first to deflect, rather than being the first to encourage," Levy wrote.

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