Judge rating to be published, despite opposition



 Jul. 5, 2004

The Bar Association is due to publish the results of its assessment of the country's judges on Tuesday despite vehement opposition from the Israel Association of Judges, which called the move an attempt to take control of the judiciary.

The questionnaire, filled out by thousands of lawyers, allows them to grade every judge in Israel, according to various criteria. It was initiated by the head of the Israel Bar, Shlomo Cohen. The Bar published its first assessment two years ago, but not last year because of the judges' opposition.

This year's questionnaire was sent out to some 30,000 lawyers.

In a statement published on Monday, Judge Micha Lindenstraus, President of the Haifa District Court and chairman of the Israel Association of Judges, announced that the judges would ignore the results of the questionnaire.

"The questionnaire is an unauthorized and unnecessary supervisory instrument over the judiciary which causes serious harm to the [office of the Ombudsman] legislated recently by the Knesset to examine complaints from the public against the judges," wrote Lindenstraus. "There is no arguing that the courts are open to all supervision according to the rules that exist today, but cannot lend a hand to the attempt of the Israel Bar to gain control over the judicial system using an anonymous questionnaire... The Central Committee of the Israel Bar totally ignored the judicial system when it created the questionnaire and made no effort to work with the judges and the Courts Administration."

Originally, the questionnaire results were to have been published in January, but the date was postponed twice because of the attempts of Justice Minister Yosef Lapid to find a compromise between the lawyers and judges; Lapid suggested postponing publication of the results until September; in the meantime, the two sides would negotiate how the results would be published.

The Israel Association of Judges then rejected the proposal, arguing that they should first discuss whether or not to publish the results at all.

Both Lapid and Supreme Court President Aharon Barak have stressed that the results of the questionnaire will not affect the careers of the judges, including whether or not they will be promoted.

Jerusalem Post