Yoram Danziger - Eyal Toueg - 14112011
Yoram Danziger. Photo by Eyal Toueg
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It could be that Supreme Court Justice Yoram Danziger, currently on temporary leave from the court linked to an investigation of the Bat Yam municipality, will be angry at me for writing this article. He might prefer being on a forced vacation from the bench, even an extended one, to being permanently removed from office. Maybe if he presses for a decision he will receive an unfavorable response, whereas if he just waits patiently, the doubts about whether he should stay on the bench will be dispelled.

But I'm not speaking on Justice Danziger's behalf. I'm an ordinary citizen and I refuse to view his case as simply definitive proof of the key principle of equality before the law. It's as if it were being said that it's not so horrible that ordinary people, even politicians, suffer from drawn-out legal proceedings. It's as if it were being said that the presumption of innocence isn't an important principle when it comes to anyone. The wheels of justice even turn slowly for a Supreme Court justice.

This situation outrages me and prompts questions. Something here is fundamentally flawed and should therefore be rectified. And it's not so terrible if awareness of the problem is brought to the fore particularly when the injustice affects a Supreme Court justice, because in a certain sense, his high status has worked to his disadvantage.

If he were in another job, it would have taken more than a decision to investigate to force him to stop working. It's hard to imagine that Justice Danziger thought he would have to wait months facing such a strange reality.

Under such circumstances, it's inappropriate to set inflexible guidelines. Some investigations drag on because there is no alternative. Sometimes it's because the person being investigated is obstructing the probe. There are also investigations that branch out in a number of directions. Here too it's appropriate to carry out the inquiry to the end and not let up simply because the work has not been completed on time. But it's not just that justice must be seen to be done. It must be done.

In Danziger's case, we have not heard about circumstances that would delay wrapping things up, or about new or complicated issues that must be looked into. The investigation has been conducted. There has been no talk of additional work needed to finish the job. So what would be gained by dragging out the process of reaching a decision?

Why doesn't everyone in the prosecutor's office dealing with the matter devote whatever staff necessary to come to a conclusion that will permit a decision one way or another in this special case? Danziger's suspension from the bench should be ended and he should return to full-time work as a justice, as would appear necessary from the leaks (another major problem ). Or, regrettably, the case should continue or generate conclusions. In any event, drawing the matter out doesn't help anyone. It might create a situation in which, when the decision is finally made, the delay will decrease the people's faith in it. Not only will the decision have to be explained, so will the long delay.

And if as a result of such cases, support grows for the vital step of establishing an entity to supervise the prosecutor's office, then the prosecutor's office and the attorney general, who is supposed to oversee the prosecutor's office, will be able to complain about no one but themselves. And if in the end we take the presumption of innocence more seriously and don't let suspicions or a decision to investigate force someone to take a leave of absence, that will also be for the best. Individuals must cooperate with investigations. But there is no reason that they should be allowed to destroy someone's life or that we should even think that this might happen.

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: דנציגר עדיין מחכה