Rental Bid May Land Judge in Hot Water

Judge tries to rent office space to Bailiff's Office, possibly violating judicial code of ethics.

The judicial ombudsman is investigating suspicions that a judge violated the judicial code of ethics by proposing that the Bailiff's Office rent a property he owns in Acre.

The Bailiff's Office is seeking a new home for its operations in Acre and had issued a tender for a rental property. When members of the tender committee visited the properties for which bids had been submitted, they were surprised to discover that the person showing them the property at 4 Haharoshet Street was Haifa Magistrate's Court Judge Zaid Falah.

Zaid Falah - Hagai Frid - 05012012
Hagai Frid

The judicial code of ethics bars judges from actively managing a business. It does allow them to manage their own or relatives' property, but "only if this entails no active engagement in business." Moreover, a judge must refrain from any effort to manage his assets that "undermines his status as a judge or creates a conflict of interests."

Thus when committee members realized the property was being shown to them by a sitting judge - who necessarily works closely with the Bailiff's Office - they informed Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch and Courts Administration director Moshe Gal. Beinisch asked the judicial ombudsman, former Justice Eliezer Goldberg, to begin an investigation.

The Finance Ministry said the tender committee has not yet made a decision on the property. The Courts Administration said it doesn't comment on complaints under investigation by the ombudsman. Goldberg's office said he is not permitted to discuss cases that are under investigation.