Justice ministry report: majority of prosecutors, managers are women

The Justice Ministry released its third annual report on Wednesday, July 18, with data showing that 61% of its prosecution managers are now women and with increases of minorities in the ranks.

Besides statistics about the people that currently make up the state prosecution, the report also presents a wide array of statistics about how it is handling its current staggering case load of 35,076 files.

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State Attorney Shai Nitzan made the unusual effort to personally present the report in a private media session and emphasized a variety of messages, including his belief that the general public did not come close to understanding the volume of cases that the prosecution must contend with.

One key message was that despite the recently passed law which limits law enforcement from publicizing the legal category for closing a case (insufficient evidence versus a groundless case), the public will still clearly know why cases against public officials are closed by reading through the details provided in the decision closing a file.

Nitzan was very proud not only that the majority of its approximately 1,000 state prosecutors are currently women, but that this trend extends to the managerial level. He commented on the fact that in other offices, even where women may make up a majority of rank-and-file personnel, men often still take the top jobs. Not so in the prosecution, he said.

Regarding Arab and other minorities in the prosecution, although in absolute terms the numbers are still small, the report said that there has been a 14% increase in minorities over the last year.

According to the report, there are now around 160 minorities working for the prosecution, making up about 9% of all employees and about 8% of all prosecutors.

Discussing the broad handling of cases, the report said that around 70% of cases were closed within approximately a month of when they were received.

This led to a discussion with Nitzan about whether the reasons for closing cases against public officials would remain public after the new “Recommendations Law” on the issue was passed.

Nitzan assured questioners that decisions about cases regarding public figures would continue to have enough specific information that omitting the category for closing a case would be insignificant.

Taking issue with criticisms that came up during the debate over the Recommendations Law, Nitzan said that the prosecution was unjustifiably criticized for appealing acquittals. He said that, in truth, out of the thousands of cases the prosecution handled recently, only 60 appeals had been filed to the Supreme Court and only nine of those were for acquittal, with the rest being only against the leniency of the sentence.

Addressing another criticism from that debate, he said that it was untrue that the prosecution does not close cases under the category of “a groundless case.” Actually in recent years, 12% of cases were closed for that reason and he expects that number to rise after a new directive he issued clarifying when a case should be closed as “groundless.”

Of the 35,076 cases last year, Nitzan said that only around 500 were taking more than a year to be dealt with and that only around 90 of those were dragging out for several years.

Incidentally, Nitzan said that some cases might have a complex combination of domestic violence along with a family trying to stay together and the monitoring of potential improvement between the spouses.

Violence itself was a major theme, with the report stating that 39% of prosecution cases relate to violence.

The report said that in 2017, the prosecution obtained a full or partial conviction in 82% of cases which went to trial.

In addition, the report discussed the civil prosecution’s obtaining a whopping NIS 702 million in judgments in 2017; the growing achievements of its cyber division; and its Police Investigations Department which deals with allegations against the police and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).