Supreme Court Justice Esther Hayut and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked have announced that Tel Aviv Magistrates’ Court Judge Ronit Poznansky-Katz is to be temporarily suspended from her post.
State Ombudsman Eliezer Rivlin made the recommendation to suspend the judge following her exchange on the Whatsapp cellphone chat application together with Israel Securities Authority (ISA) attorney Eran Shacham Shavit. Their conversation about “Case 4000″ – the investigation into possible corruption involving the primary Bezeq shareholder and owner of Walla! News as well as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others – was revealed Sunday in a Channel 10 news report.
The suspension will remain in effect until Poznansky-Katz appears at a hearing before the Disciplinary Court.
Shaked and Hayut said they had accepted the decision of the Ombudsman to pursue disciplinary action against Poznansky-Katz following her collusion with the investigator.
Rivlin, a former justice, noted in his recommendations that, “Direct contact between an investigator representing the Securities Authority and a judge overseeing the Authority’s cases lasted many days.
“The direct relationship, which began with mere logistical coordination, soon became improper dialogue,” with added clarification that the text constituted “improper proximity between a litigant and a judge.
“The proximity between the judge and the prosecution’s representative produced contempt. The messages exchanged should not have been written, and would not have been written had the judge not allowed this proximity with the Securities Authority’s representative to take place and had she not allowed him to directly contact her. Direct ties between the two should not have been established,” Rivlin said.
However, he added “There was absolutely no miscarriage of justice or a conspiracy between the prosecution and the court here,” noting the facts would eventually have been made known to the judge in any case.