Report shows spike in valid complaints against judges

A valid complaint indicates that the judge made one of a variety of possible errors.

Gavel [Illustrative] (photo credit: INIMAGE)
Gavel [Illustrative]
(photo credit: INIMAGE)
The Ombudsman for Complaints Against Judges, retired Supreme Court justice Eliezer Rivlin, on Tuesday presented his 2015 annual report, which noted a leap from 11 percent to 18% in valid complaints against judges.
Rivlin presented the report to Supreme Court President Miriam Naor and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.
Naor’s predecessor, Asher D. Grunis, had been criticized for failing to remove from the bench judges found unfit in previous annual reports. The Ombudsman for Complaints Against Judges Law was enacted in 2002.
This year’s report said that in 2015, 824 complaints were filed, a jump from 2014, but still less than the record of 930 in 2013. Of these 824 complaints, 96 were determined to be valid, down from the peak of 101 cases in 2013.
Thirty-five percent of the valid complaints related to delays in court proceedings, while 23% related to case management.
In 2015, Naor gave a severe warning to one judge and a severe censure to another because of valid complaints.
The report cited as an example of judicial misconduct the case where a judge told a lawyer, “I have a suggestion for you. Do not get into bed with this sick person.”
Ombudsman Rivlin wrote that judges should not advise lawyers whom they should represent, and that the dirty language used by the judge was inappropriate.
In another example, a judge told a sexual harassment complainant that she did not view her claim as valid, since “It takes two to tango,” and since the employee had “used her sexuality in order to obtain” goals in her office. There was also a complaint that some of the judge’s more colorful language was left out of the court transcript.
The report highlighted problems in the small claims and rabbinical courts, including a failure by the latter to appoint enough judges, resulting in an extensive backlog of cases.