Judicial system said to need 300-400 judges

Justice Ministry's Courts Administration: More judges needed to reduce judicial procedures' time.

court gavel 88 (photo credit: )
court gavel 88
(photo credit: )
The judicial system requires 300 to 400 more judges to substantially reduce the time it takes to complete a judicial procedure, Moshe Gal, head of the Justice Ministry's Courts Administration, said Monday. Gal was interviewed on Israel Radio about an internal study regarding the satisfaction level of the more than 600 judges' assistants in the Courts Administration. However, the interviewer quickly steered the conversation into what he described as the "overload and tardiness of the courts." Gal insisted that the length of time it takes to complete a judicial procedure was a function of the heavy caseload of the judges. "We must look at this problem as one of overload and not tardiness on the part of the courts," he said. "The judges are heavily overburdened, with twice the caseload of their Western peers." Last year, a study conducted by the Center for Public Management and Policy at Haifa University's Faculty of Law revealed that Israeli judges handle an average of 2,335 cases per year, compared with an average of 1,185 in Australia, Britain, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Cyprus, Italy, Belgium, Holland, New Zealand, Finland, Sweden, Ireland, Germany, Spain and France. Gal said matters had improved, after most of the vacancies in the roster of judges had been filled during the past year-and-a-half, and the government had agreed to add another 86 positions to the total. About 30 of the new positions have been filled so far. "The situation is greatly improving," he said. "There is a consistent decrease in the stock of unfinished cases in the judicial system." Regarding the study of the judges' assistants, Gal said he had ordered it because the number of assistants who had quit their posts in the middle of their four-to-six year terms had increased from 10 percent in 2006 to 15 percent in 2007. One of the reasons for this was that the assistants had been treated as regular employees even though they did not perform regular clerical work. According to the report, some of the judges' assistants who appeared before the internal committee complained that they had been asked to do menial tasks which had nothing to do with their legal training, like taking a judge's car to be fixed or bring him food. But Gal said these were exceptional cases which had never been brought to his attention before the study. "I can believe that here and there there might be such a problem, but it definitely does not reflect the experience of the overwhelming majority of assistants, the important work they do, their enormous contribution to the judicial system and the work satisfaction that most of them feel," he said.