Israel Bar chairman calls on Olmert to rescue judicial system

Israel Bar chairman Yori Geiron called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Monday to put an end to the escalation of the public dispute between Supreme Court Justice Dorit Beinisch and Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann. "The responsibility for the escalation which has been created in the judicial system rests with you," Geiron told Olmert. "You ought to find a solution immediately. This is the time to act, lest it become too late." Geiron said that Friedmann was largely responsible for the crisis that has led to a further loss of confidence in the judicial system over the past year. "I agree that the flood of initiatives and reforms in the judicial system that Friedmann has been leading over the past months has been interpreted as a deliberate and planned attempt to attack and weaken the Supreme Court," Geiron continued. "I also agree with the claim that one of the motives for his conduct is the fundamental position whereby the prerogatives of the president of the Supreme Court must be diminished. Even if that is not what he has meant to do, that is the way Friedmann's actions are perceived by the public." Geiron divided Friedmann's policies into two categories. Those that dealt with the independence of the courts, judicial review, justiciability, the right of standing and the composition of the Judges Election Committee were substantive issues which needed to be changed "cautiously, carefully and moderately and only after broad public debate." On the other hand, Geiron said he agreed with changes Friedmann introduced such as in the method of choosing court presidents, the matter of seniority, the number of years a court president could serve, the distribution of files to new courts, and the advancement of private lawyers to judicial positions. Meanwhile, in a letter to Friedmann, Geiron urged him to schedule a meeting to elect two more Supreme Court justices to fill two of the current three vacancies. Friedmann cancelled the last scheduled meeting at the last moment, allegedly because he could not garner enough support in the Judges Election Committee to elect his hand-picked candidate, Jerusalem District Court Judge Yehudit Tzur, to the Supreme Court.