Judges, Lawyers to Debate Judicial Rating System Monday

Judges threaten severing ties with the Bar Association if survey in which attorneys evaluate judges, is reinstated.

Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman is scheduled to meet on Monday with Israel Bar Association chairman Doron Barzilay and judges' representatives in an effort to resolve the ongoing dispute over Barzilay's plan to revive a controversial survey in which attorneys evaluate judges.

The judges' representatives adamantly oppose the idea. At a meeting on Friday, they threatened to sever all ties with the Bar Association if the survey, which was halted years ago due to their opposition, is reinstated.

Doron Barzilai - Daniel Bar-On - 26092011
Daniel Bar-On

The Bar Association has been discussing various ideas for settling the dispute. One is to refrain from publishing the survey's results, and to instead disseminate results only to the heads of the judicial system so that they can be used as a tool when deciding which judges to promote.

Another option is to evaluate a sampling of judges in different specialties, rather than all judges, and to allow only veteran lawyers who have appeared before a given judge repeatedly to participate. Under this proposal, evaluations of specific judges would not be published; only the Bar Association's evaluation of the overall quality of judges in each specialty would be published in this case.

Yaakov Neeman - Moti Kimche - July 2011
Moti Kimche

A third option is having lawyers offer written evaluations of judges instead of asking them to assign judges a numerical grade.

Not all lawyers support the survey. Asher Axelrod, the head of the Bar Association's Jerusalem chapter, plans to advise his members not to participate. In a letter sent to all Jerusalem attorneys this weekend, he argued that the damage the survey would do to relations between the Bar Association and judges isn't worth the risk. Danny Alyagon, the head of the Bar Association's southern chapter, voiced similar concerns in a conversation with Haaretz.

But Barzilay's supporters retorted that he was elected in large part because of his pledge to revive the survey, which he views as an important tool in improving the judicial system's work.