Procaccia retires from Supreme Court after 10 years

Veteran justice praised at farewell as pillar of democracy; her final ruling as a judge was to cancel an Interior Ministry regulation.

By RON FRIEDMAN
April 14, 2011 02:39
4 minute read.
Procaccia retires from Supreme Court after 10 years

beinisch Procaccia 224AJ. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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Justice Ayala Procaccia retired from the Supreme Court on Wednesday after 10 years on the court.

Her final ruling as a judge was to cancel an Interior Ministry regulation according to which a foreign worker loses her work permit in the case of pregnancy or childbirth.

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Procaccia was sent off in a formal ceremony at the Supreme Court attended by all the Supreme Court justices, Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein, State Attorney Moshe Lador and other judges, lawyers and family members.

Procaccia’s mandatory retirement at the age of 70 leaves the bench with 14 justices, one short of the amount required by law. It is up to Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch and Neeman to select candidates to fill her spot.

Procaccia served as a judge in Jerusalem for 24 years, working her way up through the judicial hierarchy.

Before that she was legal counsel for the Israel Securities Authority and filled a range of positions in the Justice Ministry.

Procaccia completed her LL.B. degree and master’s degree at the Hebrew University and received her doctorate in juridical science from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Her first job as a lawyer was as legal assistant to then- Supreme Court president Shimon Agranat for four years.

Procaccia was lauded on Wednesday by all of the dignitaries for her independent nature and personal integrity, and each highlighted notable rulings she wrote.

“Ayala is an important and influential judge, who in her years on the bench, enriched the law with her rulings and contributed a great deal to Israeli society,” said Beinisch, noting that Procaccia was among the first generation of Sabra judges and the first judge to have come out of the Kibbutz movement. She was born at Kibbutz Ashdot Ya’acov.

“There is no aspect of the law that Ayala did not touch.

In all of them, she gave expression to a deep moral conviction and the view that we, as judges, must defend Israel’s character as a liberal, democratic and Jewish society.

In her way she expressed her own belief system, according to which her task as a judge was to vigilantly protect the rule of law and the correct balance between individual rights and the public and its interests,” Beinisch said.

Beinisch noted Procaccia’s first constitutional ruling as a magistrate’s court judge, overturning a bylaw forbidding the opening of movie theaters on Shabbat.

“The verdict created waves and placed Ayala in her rightful place as an independent judge,” said Beinisch. “Today such moral resolve and independence would be construed as stubbornness or over-assertiveness.”

“Justice Procaccia, for those of us who tread the paths of the law, strikes a boldly unique figure, in her sharpness of thought and judicial courage,” Weinstein said in his congratulations on behalf of the public justice system and the Justice Ministry “Despite the wide range of fields she dealt with, her actions all shared a similar characteristic – her constant striving for social amendment and the creation of a model society: one founded on the values of justice, a society that sanctifies probity and the integrity of power.”

Weinstein used the opportunity to add that the application and enforcement of court rulings are a condition for the existence of a just society, “and on this count there is no room for hesitancy on the part of state agencies.

As Justice Procaccia wrote in one of her rulings: They are supposed to be an example of fidelity to justice and the law.”

Not everyone was as generous with their praise.

National Union chairman Ya’acov Katz issued a statement characterizing her as a Supreme Court judge who “led a judicial dictatorship in the fashion of [former court president] Aharon Barak, representing a small and extreme segment of the population. She saw herself as a substitute for democratic majority rule.”

In her departure speech, Procaccia spoke of the fragility of democracy.

“The trust in the strength of Israeli democracy, in the stability of the parliamentary sovereignty and in the judicial system as a source of protection of its constitutional values is very strong. At the same time, human historical processes teach us to take nothing for granted,” she said.

“Just as in the past full effort was required to build something from nothing, today we must invest similar efforts to maintaining that which exists and to developing the great achievement reached. The pioneering project is not yet complete. It is necessary to put daily and hourly efforts into keeping the integrity of the power structure and the development and maintenance of constitutional values and human rights; to reaching those places that remain on society’s fringes and do not enjoy the protection of the state and the law.”

Procaccia thanked her colleagues and family members and said she planned to remain active after her retirement.

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