Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman met with the leadership of the Israel Bar Association on Friday to discuss their efforts to have District Court judge Varda Alshech dismissed from the bench following an incident in which she was found to have amended court hearing minutes without notifying the lawyers involved in the case.
About two and a half months ago, the judicial ombudsman, retired Justice Eliezer Goldberg, issuing a finding that Alshech had made five changes to the court case minutes without the knowledge of the attorneys in the case. Alshech said she had written a draft and an official version, and had mistakenly distributed the wrong version.
Goldberg's finding of wrongdoing prompted the bar association leadership to seek to have her dismissed from her judicial position. Following Friday's meeting, Neeman issued a statement saying that the bar association representatives had presented their position and that he would consider their request.
Two weeks ago Supreme Court President Dan Grunis decided that Alshech should be reprimanded over the incident and that a severe warning over the matter should be noted in her personnel file. But he refrained from calling for her dismissal after Goldberg chose not to recommend that the justice minister or judicial appointment committee seek to have her step down from the bench, even though the judicial ombudsman is authorized to make such a recommendation and has done so in the past.
Following Grunis' decision, the district heads of the bar association wrote to Neeman asking that he use his authority to file a disciplinary complaint against Alshech and to have her dismissed from the bench. They also took issue with Grunis' decision not to go beyond a reprimand.
For his part, however, Grunis found no evidence that the changes Alshech made in the court minutes were inaccurate, even if the lawyers involved were unaware that she made the amendments. He drew a clear distinction between changes that were at variance with what happened in court and changes that were simply made without the knowledge of the lawyers in the case. Nonetheless Grunis said Alshech's conduct cannot be taken lightly.
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