21 Judges Named to District Courts

Twenty-one new judges, 15 men and six women, were appointed to district courts around the country Friday by the Judicial Appointments Committee.

Although two Bedouin judges had been nominated for promotion to the Be'er Sheva District Court, neither was appointed.

Forty-eight candidates competed for posts in the two district courts in the Tel Aviv area, in Tel Aviv itself and in Petah Tikva. Five candidates were ultimately selected by the committee to serve in Tel Aviv. Magistrate's Court Judge Mordechai Peled, who had sought a district court post, had been recommended by a judicial selection committee in April as presiding judge of the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court. In the end, he failed to be appointed to that position and was also passed over for a district court position.

Magistrate's Court Judge Hayuta Kochan, who was one of a panel of judges who presided over former justice minister Haim Ramon's indecent assault case, also failed in her bid to be promoted to the district court. Kohan recently refused to comment when asked by Haaretz if she would quit the bench if she failed to get a permanent or temporary district court appointment. Over the weekend, she told associates she had not made up her mind on the matter.

Be'er Sheva Magistrate's Court Judge Jacob Spasser was elevated to the district court in the city, an appointment that was expected. He will be joined by four other new district judges: Tali Haimovich, Nechama Nezer, Yael Raz-Levi and former military judge Mordechai Levy. The newly appointed district court judges in the city are all residents of the south. This follows displeasure expressed within the judicial system over the impression that the Be'er Sheva District Court was being used as a way station for judges seeking eventual appointment to district courts in the center of the country.

The appointment of Nezer, who is a Magistrate's Court judge in Kiryat Gat, was considered a surprise, in light of her non-conformist image. She had bitterly criticized law enforcement authorities and had ignored a ruling by the Be'er Sheva District Court, the court to which she has now been appointed.

Joshua Pilpel, who served as presiding judge in the Be'er Sheva District Court, initially sought a part-time appointment to the court to work in criminal mediation, but subsequently withdrew his candidacy. In an interview earlier this month with Haaretz, Pilpel harshly criticized various authorities within the judicial system.

Among those appointed to the Central District Court in Petah Tikva, attorney Ofer Grosskopf, received unanimous support from the appointments committee. He had been vice dean of the law school at Tel Aviv University. He is an expert in commercial law, and his candidacy for the bench had been promoted by former justice minister Daniel Friedmann.

Among other notable appointments is Moshe Hacohen, the Jerusalem public defender, who will be serving in the district court in the city. The appointment, which was also unanimously approved, is considered an accomplishment for the Public Defender's Office. Among the other new district court judges in the capital are Magistrate's Court Judge Raphael Carmel and Supreme Court registrar Yigal Marzel, who had also been the legal assistant to former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak. Marzel was seen as a personal choice of current Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch. His appointment was opposed by some committee members, who did not think he had sufficient experience.