Justice Ministry accelerates appointments of judges

Grunis: Backlog in Israelis courts continues to remain one of the heaviest in the world.

January 15, 2013 03:31
3 minute read.
Supreme Court President Grunis, Peres

Supreme Court President Grunis, Peres_370. (photo credit: Marc Neiman/GPO )


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If the wheels of justice seem to grind slowly in Israel, it is largely due to the huge imbalance between the number of cases that come before the courts and the number of judges available to heart them and to give a ruling.

In a country whose total population stands at just under eight million, 750,000 new case files were opened in 2012 alone. While every effort is being made by the courts towards greater efficiency in file management, and cases are being heard and concluded at a more rapid pace than in previous years, the backlog in Israel continues to remain one of the heaviest in the world, Supreme Court President Justice Asher Grunis said on Monday.

He was speaking at the President's Residence at a ceremony marking the appointments of twelve new judges and a senior court registrar. Of the twelve judges, eleven were appointed to Magistrates Courts in the Southern District, Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and one to the Traffic Court in Tel Aviv.

Grunis credited the significant increase in judicial appointments to Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, who has taken on the onerous challenge of reducing the level of disproportion between the number of judges and the number of cases which are filed.

Grunis made the point that the number of judges appointed during the administration of the outgoing government, represented approximately a third of all the judges serving in Israel, including seven Supreme Court justices who were appointed over the past four years.

Neeman himself supplied an additional statistic, stating that 237 judges had been appointed under the current administration, and altogether, the number of judges appointed over the past ten years, amounted to 266.

He left it to the audience to calculate the dearth of appointments in the previous six years. He also expressed satisfaction that the appointments of the seven Supreme Court Justices had been unanimous but chose to ignore the controversies that arose following the announcement of the names of some of the nominees.

Both Grunis and Neeman emphasized the need to ignore public opinion with regard to any case and to focus purely on the law and on the dictates of conscience of each and every judge, and to hand down rulings that were fair and just.

Grunis also reminded the new judges that the manner in which they handled their cases and the people who appeared before them in court would impact on public confidence in the justice system.

Both Grunis and President Shimon Peres underscored that Israel's justice system is grounded in democracy.

Grunis reminded those present that Israel goes to the polls next week to exercise one of the most central rights in a democratic system - the right to vote and to be elected.

“This is the opportunity for all adult citizens of Israel to influence the character of the State," he said. “It is a celebration of Israel's democratic system” Peres expressed a similar sentiment when he said that it was an opportunity for every citizen to strengthen the nation's democracy. Democracy today is no longer dependant on leadership, said Peres.”

“Leaders are dependent more than ever before on public opinion and the power of the individual despite (the influence of) mass communication.”

Peres placed the onus of responsibility not only on the nation's leaders but also on its citizens. “Every citizen must feel as if the fate of the nation is in his hands,” said Peres when stressing the need for everyone with voting rights to participate in the upcoming elections.

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