Two Controversial Traffic Court Rulings This Year

Plea agreement gives drunk driver 600 hours of community service, a license suspension, a fine and a suspended sentence; Supreme Court reduces sentences of hit-and-drive perpetrators.

Two court decisions in traffic cases sparked controversy this year: one involved a plea bargain for a drunk driver who left his victim paralyzed; in the other, the Supreme Court reduced sentences of those accused in a fatal hit-and-run.

The plea agreement was formulated in March by the police prosecutor and approved by Petah Tikva Traffic Court Judge Tal Ostfeld-Navy. It gave driver Mark Patrick - who hit 12-year-old Shahar Greenspun while driving intoxicated in December 2009 - 600 hours of community service, a six-year suspension of his license, a fine of NIS 1,000 and a suspended sentence.

Meital Aharonson’s family - Moti Kimche - August 2011
Moti Kimche

State Prosecutor Moshe Lador, who reviewed the case, later wrote to the Greenspun family that "although it is clear that the agreement was utterly mistaken, under the circumstances and by current law, it is unfortunately not possible to appeal the sentence."

Lador said that the police prosecution must conduct a thorough review of legal procedures regarding such agreements, particularly with regard to informing the victim's family of a pending deal and letting them have their say.

In the second case, the Supreme Court in January reduced the sentences of Shalom Yemini and Shai Simon, who fled the scene after hitting and killing Meital Aharonson and seriously injuring Mali Yazdi in Tel Aviv in October 2008.

In explaining the decision to lower driver Simon's sentence from 20 years to 14, and Yemini's from five to two-and-a-half years, the Supreme Court said the Tel Aviv District Court had "deviated in the extreme from the accepted standard of punishment" when it handed down the tougher sentences.

After the later ruling, Aharonson's mother, Leora, said it was a declaration that human life has no worth. "I don't know how we can go on with our lives after this," she told Haaretz at the time.