Lador Files Complaint Against J'lem Judge Over 'Political Statements'

Dispute focuses on indictment filed by police's Shai (West Bank) District against Yifat Alkoby, resident of Kiryat Arba settlement; Pollock, who has been a judge for 16 years, was hearing the case.

State Prosecutor Moshe Lador filed a rare complaint to the judicial ombudsman against Jerusalem Magistrate's Court Judge Dov Pollock, prompting Pollock to charge that Lador was trying to influence judicial decisions, according to documents obtained by Haaretz.

The dispute focuses on an indictment filed by the police's Shai (West Bank) District against Yifat Alkoby, a resident of the settlement of Kiryat Arba. Pollock, who has been a judge for 16 years, was hearing the case.

moshe lador - Tomer Appelbaum
Tomer Appelbaum

The police had charged Alkoby with insulting a civil servant in a racist manner when they arrested her in 2007. She allegedly asked a Jewish policeman not to leave her alone with "Arab policemen." The indictment was approved by Shai Nitzan, the deputy state prosecutor for special affairs, as is standard in cases involving alleged racism.

Alkoby's lawyer, Asher Ohayon, argued that the case should be thrown out because, while the crime exists on the books, such insults are almost never prosecuted in practice. He also sought to summon Nitzan to testify about his reasons for deciding to prosecute this case.

During the debate on the motion, police claim that Pollock made various "political" statements, such as, "I remember how [former Deputy Attorney General] Talia Sasson always said she was objective, and then she ran for the leadership of a certain party" - apparently a reference to Sasson's run for a slot on the left-wing Meretz party's Knesset slate.

They also accuse him of referring to Nitzan as Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch's "baby," of threatening to withhold his decision until after Beinisch's planned retirement in February and her replacement by "objective parties" (presumably a reference to her likely successor, Justice Asher Grunis, who is generally considered more conservative than Beinisch), and of saying that "in other countries, they wouldn't file an indictment over remarks like these."

All this, as the daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported yesterday, led police to file a rare request that Pollock recuse himself - a request that the judge rejected.

But Haaretz has learned that, in March, Lador also filed an even rarer complaint against Pollock to the judicial ombudsman, sending a copy to Beinisch as well.

In his complaint, Lador wrote that there had recently been a sharp rise in insults against civil servants and other attempts to deter them from doing their job, up to and including "calls to attack them (including Mr. Nitzan himself )," and that this trend potentially has "grave consequences." Given this context, he continued, he found it necessary to protest Pollock's "unacceptable" statements in court.

For instance, Lador wrote, "the judge said the claim of selective [law] enforcement had arisen, and not for the first time, with regard to Mr. Nitzan's decisions, and he was interested in hearing the reasons for submitting the indictment for himself."

Another example was Pollock's statement that he was summoning Nitzan to testify because his name "is cited frequently in the media and because he [Pollock] doesn't understand what underlies Nitzan's decisions. Perhaps it really is persecution."

In his response to the ombudsman, Pollock charged that Lador's complaint was an attempt by "an interested party" to "influence the content of my decision before it is issued." But he did not address the specific comments he is accused of making.

He has since told associates that he views the complaint as an attempt to "intimidate" him and that he feels "persecuted by the system."

The judicial ombudsman's office said it is not allowed to comment on ongoing inquiries. Lador's office denied any attempt to intimidate Pollock, but said it did think his latest statements justified disqualifying him from the case and that the ombudsman should look into Pollock's conduct.