Israeli Judge Suspected of Conflict of Interest Involving Ex-bar Chief Who Allegedly Promoted Him

Shortly after the senior judge was given the post, he presided over a case in which the firm of Efraim Nave, embroiled in corruption cases, represented one of the defendants

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Former Israel Bar Association chairman Efraim Nave attending a court hearing, Tel Aviv, Israel, July 14, 2019.
Former Israel Bar Association chairman Efraim Nave attending a court hearing, Tel Aviv, Israel, July 14, 2019. Credit: Reuven Castro

The senior judge whose promotion former Israel Bar Association chairman Efraim Nave allegedly advanced did not include Nave’s law firm on a list of his possible conflicts of interest, an examination by Haaretz determined.

Shortly after he was given the post, with Nave’s help, the judge presided over a case in which Nave’s firm represented one of the defendants.

Late last week Haaretz reported that in 2016 Nave promoted the senior judge’s candidacy for his current position, to which several judges had applied. Nave appeared before the internal committee of the Courts Administration and expressed his support for the promotion.

Nave agreed to advance the judge’s candidacy in exchange for the latter’s commitment regarding a legal matter of specific interest to Nave, and the judge did not rule out this relationship.

The senior judge, whose identity still cannot be revealed, never told the Courts Administration that he had a conflict of interest linked to Nave or the law firm in which Nave is a partner.

The judge named, in a conflict of interest disclosure submitted to the civil society organization Hatzlacha, the Consumers’ Movement for the Promotion of a Fair Society and Economy, 11 lawyers or law firms whose cases he was barred from hearing. Nave did not appear in the disclosure.

Haaretz found that in 2016 the judge was asked to hear a lawsuit seeking 5 million shekels ($1.44 million) in damages from a large public agency that was represented by Nave’s law firm. The judge suggested mediation and the two parties ended up settling out of court. In a different case that year, the judge made a technical decision to merge two cases, one of which involved Nave’s law firm.

In the wake of the reports about this issue in Haaretz and on Channel 13 News, the Movement for Quality Government on Monday wrote to Justice Minister Amir Ohaha and requested that he establish a government committee of inquiry to investigate the appointments of all judges during Nave’s term as bar association chairman.

The organization also asked Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit and Acting Police Commissioner Mordechai Cohen to launch an investigation into the case of the senior judge.

“The woeful picture presented by the report points to real concerns about the commission of crimes by attorney Nave that have implications on the validity of the whole process of judicial appointments,” the letter said.