Court to Pay Lawyer NIS 210,000 for 10-year Wait on Verdict

Adiel Cheshin claimed delay forced him to lose out on money owed him from contractor who refused to pay in 1991.

The Courts Administration is expected to pay NIS 210,000 in compensation to attorney Adiel Cheshin following a 10-year wait for a court verdict.

The sum, reached in a settlement nearing the end of its approval process, is one of the largest compensation judgments to be issued in recent years against the court system for delayed verdicts.

Former judge Eliezer Goldberg, commissioner of complaints against judges last month, called such delays "a major problem of the justice system."

Jerusalem attorney Adiel Cheshin sued the courts for compensation he says he is due after retired judge Michaela Shidlovsky-Or delayed her verdict for 10 years on a case in which Cheshin sued a client for non-payment of fees.

Attorney Adiel Cheshin
Emil Salman (Archive)

When the verdict was finally delivered 10 years later, Cheshin could not collect the money Shidlovsky-Or decreed was owed him - more than NIS 500,000, and he therefore demanded the Courts Administration, to which Shidlovsky-Or is accountable, compensate him.

The settlement, which was recently approved by the Courts Administration and the Justice Ministry, is now awaiting approval by the accountant general in the Finance Ministry.

The settlement was proposed by Rishon Letzion Magistrate's Court Judge Yehzkel Kienar, who heard Cheshin's case against the Courts Administration.

Cheshin is the son of former Supreme Court justice Shneur Zalman Cheshin and the brother of former Supreme Court justice Mishael Cheshin.

Shidlovsky-Or is the wife of former Supreme Court justice Theodor Or.

The case began in 1991 when Cheshin sued a Jerusalem contractor for non-payment of legal fees amounting to NIS 110,000. Shidlovsky-Or was the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court judge who heard the case. The case was ready for a ruling in 1994, but Shidlovsky-Or ruled only in August 2004.

She signed her verdict with the words "my deepest apologies to the parties for the long time that has passed."

Cheshin initially demanded NIS 690,000 in compensation from the Courts Administration. However, the Courts Administration argued that Shidlovsky-Or enjoys judicial immunity and that even if the verdict had been delivered earlier, Cheshin would not have been able to collect the money because the contractor could not pay even then.

Cheshin told the court that Shidlovsky-Or's negligence was so great that she could not shield herself with judicial immunity.

After Kiener, who is vice-president of the Rishon Letzion Magistrate's Court, studied the documents, he proposed the compromise, hinting broadly that Cheshin should be compensated.

In November 2009, Cheshin's suit against the Courts Administration caused a legal storm after Haaretz revealed that the head of the Courts Administration, Judge Moshe Gal, had asked to meet with Cheshin to bring the controversy to an end. At that time, Shidlovsky-Or's husband Theodor Or headed the attorney general search committee and supported Gal for the post.

Following the report, former attorney general Menachem Mazuz instructed Gal to distance himself from the suit against Shidlovsky-Or.

Cheshin yesterday declined to comment on the matter.

The Courts Administration told Haaretz "A message of one kind or another cannot be learned from this case. Every case is discussed in the court on its own. As to the matter of the negligence the plaintiff attributed to the court, the state stands by its argument of judicial immunity. The decision to compromise touched on the responsibility of administrative officials for the damage claimed."