Israeli Judge Accused of Doctoring Transcripts Steps Down as Judicial Representative

Judge Varda Alshech quits as chairman of judges' representative group; Supreme Court president will rule on possible sanctions against her.

Judge Varda Alshech announced Friday that she was quitting her chairmanship of the judges' representative group. She is awaiting Supreme Court President Asher Grunis' decision on possible sanctions against her following a damning report by judicial ombudsman Eliezer Goldberg.

Tel Aviv District Court Deputy President Alshech was harshly criticized in the June report for illegally making both technical and substantial corrections to a court transcript, in order to strengthen a complaint she submitted to the Israel Bar Association against an attorney, Refael Ergaz.

Judicial sources believe Alshech stepped down from the post to reduce the punishment she might receive. Grunis is yet to decide whether she should be merely disciplined or to initiate her removal from the bench altogether.

Goldberg wrote: "A ruling read by a judge in court ... cannot be altered by the judge later. In this case we can determine that the judge was not authorized to alter or change her decision." Alshech said that one version was a draft that she mistakenly gave to the Bar Association and the other was the "official" version.

In the email Alshech sent to other judges in the representative group, she failed to mention the "corrected transcripts" affair. "I didn't feel like a slave," she wrote, "but it was hard and tiring work."

Before Alshech's recent return from an overseas sabbatical, a group of judges met with Grunis and told him an orchestrated campaign was being waged against Alshech, and against the judicial system in general.

Bar Association spokesperson Effi Naveh said: "This was a necessary action that should have been carried out two months ago, immediately following Goldberg's report ... [the] report is unprecedented, and in order to salvage public trust in the judicial system, she must be immediately disciplined or removed from the bench."