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