Eliezer Berland in court
Eliezer Berland in court Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

The Ombudsman for Judges, retired judge Uri Shoham, found justified a complaint against Magistrates Judge Sharon Larry-Bavli with regards to statements she made on the issue of extending Eliezer Berland's arrest.

Due to the severity of the issue, Shoham recommended Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut call Larry-Bavli in for a serious reprimand, which will be noted in her personal file.

During the investigation, it was found that when Berland's representative detailed his elderly client's medical issues during a court hearing, Larry-Bavli said: "I understood he's not a 17-year-old chicken," and also said, "Let him take (or "he can eat") Mentos."

Responding to the complaint, Larry-Bavli admitted that the "Mentos" comment should have been left unsaid, and expressed regret for it. The "chicken" comment was "bad wording," she said, apologizing for her choice of words.

Regarding another complaint, which claimed that when Berland entered the court, she photographed him with her cellular phone, Larry-Bavli insisted that she never photographed the suspect, but said that ten minutes prior to his entry, she photographed the media photographers who were in the room and photographing each other.

At the time she photographed them, no accused were in the hall, and the photographers themselves had their backs to her. The Ombudsman noted that photographing the photographers is questionable in itself.

He also said that there is no question that Larry-Bavli's statements were inappropriate and hurtful, and had no place in a court hearing, noting that she herself admitted as such. He added that a judge's obligation of self-restraint is one of the most basic obligations in the professions, and referenced among other things to the judges' rules of ethics.

"A judge, so they taught us in the ethics rules, must excel not just at respecting those he judges, but also at respecting every person," Shoham said. "It would be expected that in a court, [judges] will choose their words carefully and not use inappropriate expressions - something which did not happen, unfortunately, in this judge's case."

"Statements of this type raise real concerns of harm to the objectivity and neutrality required in court, and that applies even in a case where the statements did not interfere with the proper handling of the case, and even if the court acted according to protocol. The Judge's statements harmed not just her image as a judge, as an objective and unbiased source, but the entire judicial system - something which we cannot ignore."