Texting judge expelled from the judiciary

“Texting judge” Ronit Pozanski-Katz was expelled from the judiciary on Wednesday for improper texting with a government lawyer regarding the Case 4000 pretrial hearings.

In mid-April, the same special judicial disciplinary panel convicted Pozanski- Katz of conduct unbecoming of a judge, as part of a plea bargain.

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But until Wednesday, she had held out hope that she would only be suspended and not expelled permanently. Ultimately, the panel decided that despite a strong prior judicial record, her offense was so damaging to judicial credibility that it warranted complete removal from the bench.

Earlier, in February, she stepped down from the “Bezeq case” after she was caught exchanging text messages with Israel Securities Authority attorney Eran Shaham-Shavit about detention proceedings.

Photographs of the texting between Pozanski-Katz and Shaham-Shavit appeared to show them planning how many days of detention various suspects in Case 4000 would get.

Coordination, in which defense lawyers get to weigh in on arguments by the state outside the public process, can be grounds for overturning an extended detention order.

The “Bezeq case” is an investigation into allegations that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his top aide Shlomo Filber, whom he had installed as director- general of the Communications Ministry, to make policy rulings in favor of the telecommunications giant. In exchange, the news site Walla is alleged to have agreed to give positive news coverage to Netanyahu as dictated by his aide, Nir Hefetz, and possibly by his wife, Sara.

The go-between in the alleged exchange is said to have been Shaul Elovitch, who owns both Walla and Bezeq.

Two weeks ago, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut announced regulations that will bind interactions between judges and prosecutors, generally by preventing them from holding one-on-one meetings.

In February, Representative for Judicial Complaints Eliezer Rivlin said the judicial branch must look deeper into the general issue of problematic s between judges and government lawyers in the context of detention hearings.

Hayut’s decision was the culmination of that recommendation, after she appointed a special judicial task force to collect views and facts regarding the issue from judges, police, prosecutors and defense lawyers.