Sunday, March 07, 2010

Contempt of Court

A former deputy attorney general recently prepared a report listing several cases in which the powers that be - either Israel's government and its agencies or local authorities - have ignored the rulings of the supreme court and lower courts. I'd say it is time for the judges to send people to jail for contempt of court. I don't know if the law allows jailing in such cases, but it certainly should.

Eli Reifman, a businessman, has been repeatedly sent to jail this last year for contempt of court when he refused to transfer his shares in a high-tech company, Emblaze, to a court-appointed special manager. Just like private citizens get fined or jailed when they defy the judges, so should public officials. Start by fining mayors and officials in the government ministries responsible for the lack of implementation of judicial orders. Then, if that doesn't work, start giving out jail time.

Perhaps Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat would be the first public official to be sent to jail for contempt of court. He seems determined not to comply with supreme court decisions, and he's too rich to be hurt by heavy fines.

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