The Organization of State Attorneys is threatening a labor dispute in response to an attempt to outsource one-fifth of the State Prosecutor's Office's civil cases. The cases would be handled by private attorneys.
The government attorneys organization was informed Tuesday of a decision made last week at a meeting of the senior officials of the Prosecutor's Office to outsource 15 to 20 percent of the civil cases it handles. Today, only a very small number of such cases are handled by outside lawyers.
The union, which has over 800 members from the prosecutor's office and its regional branches, plans to petition the Tel Aviv Labor Court in the next few days against the privatization of the cases.
"Privatizing the prosecutor's office is not just another external political threat, but a trend that comes from within the Prosecutor's Office itself," said the union.
The heads of the regional State Prosecutor's Offices would be responsible for deciding which cases were kept and which are given out to private attorneys, based on whether the Prosecutor's Office has "added value" in the case.
The amount of money involved, a lack of broad consequences and significant legal issues, and a lack of complexity are among the issues that will affect the decision as to which cases to parcel out.
Each region is to submit its plan for outsourcing within two months to State Prosecutor Moshe Lador, in order to proceed after the Jewish holidays in October. Due to fears that the project will harm the independence of the Prosecutor's Office, the project will last for only four years - for now - and the implications on the independence of the prosecution will be examined during the period.
Boaz Goldberg, who heads the attorneys organization in the Justice Ministry, sent an angry email to prosecutors: "Massive privatization of the prosecution's work means the immediate weakening of the State Prosecutor's Office to the point of dismantling the prosecution and harming the rule of law."
He added that the attorneys would not accept the view that distinguishes between the "cream of the cases" and "junk cases."
"The role of the Prosecutor's Office and the prosecutors is to represent the public interest in the courts, in every single case," wrote Goldberg.
A similar outsourcing proposal was one issue that sparked a labor dispute by the attorneys four years ago. The prosecutors signed a collective bargaining agreement, which allows such outsourcing only in limited and specific types of cases - and which were given out to private attorneys for years before the agreement was reached.
The prosecution has been working on the outsourcing plan for three years. The State Prosecutor's Office said as a strategic interest it must invest its efforts in important cases related to the rule of law, state assets and defense of public interests, and outsourcing will allow it to provide additional resources to more complex cases that will remain the responsibility of the State Prosecutor's Office.
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