Judge Cohen wants to summon witnesses to dismissal meeting

Judge Hila Cohen's lawyer wrote on Wednesday to Justice Minister Tzipi Livni asking her to invite six witnesses to the upcoming meeting of the Judges' Selection Committee, which is being convened to consider Livni's demand to fire Cohen. In August, a judicial disciplinary committee found Cohen guilty of fabricating minutes of Haifa Magistrate's Court hearings that did not take place and destroying court documents. But two of the members of the three-person committee, Supreme Court Deputy President Mishael Cheshin and Justice Eliahu Rivlin, did not call for her dismissal. Instead, they ruled that she should continue to work as a judge in the northern district. Livni and Supreme Court President Aharon Barak took umbrage with that decision as well as Cohen's refusal to voluntarily step down. The two agreed to bring the matter before the Judges' Selection Committee, which met for the first time to discuss the matter on October 2. The committee members dispersed after two hours in the hope that Cohen and Judge Boaz Okun, head of the Courts Administration, could reach a settlement without having to force the committee to rule on the matter. Since then, the Courts Administration has tried to reach a financial arrangement that would satisfy Cohen. But Baruch Rubin, who, together with his father, Ya'acov, is representing Cohen, said money was not the issue and that Cohen was fighting for her reputation, her professional future and for the principle that she was already tried for her actions and should not be tried again. The Judges' Selection Committee is due to reconvene on December 1 and Rubin wants to question witnesses before the committee makes its final decision on Cohen's fate. Rubin told The Jerusalem Post that there are two types of witnesses in the list: those who recommended that Cohen be deposed, and those who know how the court system works and can allegedly testify that other judges often engage in the same practices as Cohen was formally charged with. In a related development, Tel Aviv Attorney Haim Stanger petitioned the High Court of Justice on Wednesday for a second time, charging that Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz had failed to respond within 45 days to his complaint regarding Cohen, in which he asked him to launch a criminal investigation against the judge.