Grunis: Unfit judges are a ‘ticking bomb’

Legal Forum for the Land of Israel asks Supreme Court president act to dismiss judges whom court administration declared unfit for duty.

High Court of Justice 370 (photo credit: yonah jeremy bob)
High Court of Justice 370
(photo credit: yonah jeremy bob)
The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel asked on Tuesday that Supreme Court President Asher D. Grunis act immediately to dismiss those judges whom he had called a “ticking bomb” in closed-door meetings and whom the court administration had declared unfit for duty.
The director-general of the forum, Nahi Eyal, wrote to Grunis that the public should not need to suffer from judges who were unfit, but were not forced to retire because of considerations regarding their pensions.
The forum released a statement and published protocols of meetings of top court officials, including Grunis, in which a list of judges whose performance was viewed as defective enough to justify their dismissal was discussed.
According to the forum and the protocols of the Judicial Appointments Committee, those judges were not dismissed because of concerns that their pensions would be harmed by forced early retirement or dismissal.
On January 13, 2012, then- Supreme Court president Dorit Beinisch said at a committee meeting, “We have a list of judges who we could cause to retire if we could offer them their pensions. In the meantime, we have an intermediate solution.”
Grunis said that the issue was a “ticking bomb” and that the “public was paying a price for it.”
The courts spokeswoman responded to the allegations, saying that the “issue of pension rights of judges requires investigation. Changes in the system for pension rights given to judges requires a decision of the Knesset Finance Committee and is not in the hands of the judges.”
Eyal said that the Justice Ministry should have published the protocols of the meetings of the Judicial Appointments Committee, which dealt with the issue, on its own initiative, as directed by Justice Elyakim Rubinstein around five years ago.
Eyal was referring to a 2008 High Court of Justice decision rejecting the Legal Forum’s petition to compel full disclosure of all committee meeting protocols.
Despite the rejection, the forum said that Rubinstein insisted that the law must be respected, and that it obligated the Judicial Appointments Committee to publish any details possible from the committee’s discussions.
The forum said on Tuesday that “from then until today the Legal Forum has demanded the publication of the protocols, and after threatening to appeal to the Supreme Court, the Legal Forum very recently received three protocols from the committee’s deliberations,” which it has now published on its website and Facebook page.
The forum continued on saying that beyond increased transparency in general, the disclosure had been targeted at stopping the alleged practice of a “friend brings a friend” into the judicial system, in which allegedly judges once appointed favor their friends for new appointments.
The forum also said, “In a democracy, nothing should be hidden from the public, even in the appointment of judges to the courts.”
In another protocol from February 12, 2012, the Judicial Appointments Committee decided to deny interest groups’ requests to appear directly before the committee and to limit such groups to contacting the committee in writing In the same meeting, Beinisch and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman lavished praise on each other as Grunis was appointed to be the Supreme Court’s new president and as Beinisch completed her last meeting with the committee.