(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Judge Maurice Benatar was found dead in his home in Modi’in on Tuesday evening, apparently a suicide.
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Benatar was found by his wife with a plastic bag over his head and a suicide note resting next to him.
Emergency rescue crews were called to the scene but resuscitation attempts failed.
The suicide note explained that case overload at work was among the reasons the judge decided to kill himself.
The Jerusalem Post has learned that Benatar was recently called in for a meeting with Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch and Court Administration head Judge Moshe Gal, to talk about his work performance.
A source at the Justice Ministry told the Post that the judge had been facing difficulties with his demanding workload for years.
In the meeting the judge was told to determine for himself how to proceed after previous attempts were made to reduce his caseload.
Benatar was born in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, in 1956 and immigrated to Israel in 1975. He graduated from the Hebrew University Law School and was certified to practice law in 1981. He was appointed to the magistrate’s court in 2002.
According to a 2007 study conducted by the Center for Public Management and Policy that compared judges’ caseloads in 17 western countries, Israel is ranked third in judicial burden.
“In the level of legal activity (defined by the ration of case number and population size) Israel is ranked first, while in the ratio of population and judges it is ranked sixth (a relatively low number of judges to 1,000 people),” the study said.