“It is not the state I know, it is not the state I want to know. It’s just shocking”, said Tel-Aviv District Court Judge, David Rozen, about the moving along of the DA’s Office as regards the case of money laundering in Bank Hapoalim, one of the three biggest banks in Israel – maybe the biggest of them.
According to the Israeli Criminal Procedure Law, the prosecution has to disclose all the evidence it has to the defendant when it refers an indictment to court (as well as in the U.S., to my humble knowledge).
In this case the prosecutor declared, in court session, that the whole investigation materials were rendered to the defense, but two weeks later they said rega-rega*, we have, by mistake, failed to disclose some evidence, and therefore we ask for postponement of the next sessions.
One week later, it happened again, and the prosecution again said rega-rega, while checking the case we have found some new evidence …
But it wasn’t enough, and later, again, they said rega-rega, we have found new materials, some 38 (!) boxes with “new” documents, relating to key witnesses in this case
If you can read Hebrew, and you wish to know more about how the Israeli prosecution works, you can find it in the story The Flagship is Drowning: a traffic citation for driving at 178 KPH (111 MPH) in an urban area, the speed limit in which is 50 KPH (31 MPH). The head of the police prosecution declared that there will be “no plea-bargain”, but the case was handled so clumsily, so negligently, that eventually the prosecutor had to recall the indictment, in order to avoid a shameful defeat.
And yet, according to the CBS (the Israeli official Central Bureau of Statistics), they get 99.9% of convictions (it’s also in English!). How do they manage to have it, in spite of their (sometimes gross) negligence?
We shall see that shortly.
“What’s going on here?”
Judge Rozen responded gravely to the “explanations” given by the prosecution in its letter: “How can we talk about a mistake … This letter is shocking … you do not want to check the evidence, don’t check. Give them all the stuff. … What kind of thing is that? What’s going on here? People here for years don’t sleep at night, and you know that there is no guilt and you do not let them know. For a failure one must pay”.
The outburst of the judge was not out-of-the-blue. It was also neither because he had nothing to do that day, nor because he had nothing wiser to say. It was in response to a motion made by the defense attorney to cancel the indictment, due to the prosecution’s failure to observe the law provisions safeguarding the defendant’s rights for a fair trial.
And “for a failure one must pay”, as the judge himself said.
Did the judge, following a “lecture” – a small “sample” of it is given above – make the prosecution pay for the three, maybe four, maybe more consecutive failures? No, he didn’t.
Did the judge accept the argument that failing to disclose 38 – thirty eight! – boxes of documents was but a “mistake”? In fact, he did.
So, what was the point of this ado? Just lip-service, because after accepting the defense arguments as “just and agreed”, he rejected the motion to cancel the indictment, adding that he “considered dramatic steps”, and “from now on” he would be “much more attentive to any request of the defense about the investigation materials disclosed too late”.
Reading these words again and again, you won’t believe:
“… be much more attentive to any request of the defense…” – how “attentive” had he been to the defense prior to that moment?
“… much more attentive to any request of the defense about the investigation materials disclosed too late” – and what about the “attentiveness” to other requests of the defense?
Why should a judge …
Why should a judge scatter so many “high” words, knowing that he will do nothing with them?
It is the irresistible lust for fat headlines in tomorrow’s newspapers. Yes, we know – and he knows too – that those papers are used, on the day after, for wrapping herrings in the market (and web pages can’t serve even this modest purpose), but tomorrow is another day, another “show”…
Will it help?
No, it will not. When an offender hears every now and then that “for offenses one must pay”, but he is not requested to pay for them, he just smiles, and carries on his improper behavior.
Thus act the Israeli prosecutors: they often come to court with homework not done, and whenever they need a time-out for “improvements” – the judge is most generous to them. He is their “partner”.
So, what wonder is it that the prosecution, though negligent, gets 99.9% of convictions in criminal cases?
“It is not the state that I know …”
We started quoting the judge saying: “it is not the state that I know, it is not the state that I want to know …”, but the “state”, i.e. the state authorities, institutions and organs, allow themselves to behave according to the length of the leash the judges give them. So, the judge that gives the “state” a bad education has no right to cry havoc about the state he wants to know, or doesn’t want to know.
Moreover, if he doesn’t want to contribute to the state he does want to know, he should look for another state, instead of enjoying the pot of meat, and shedding crocodile tears, just for tomorrow’s headlines.
* (Hebrew) Rega – a moment, rega-rega – just a moment, let me think over again, etc.
The author’s mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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