This study aims to evaluate the changes in the independence and quality of the judicial process, in relation to judicial panels dealing with serious crimes in the military courts of Judea and Samaria (hereinafter, "the Region'). This evaluationfllows the 2002 transition from /udiialpanels, consisting of a lega/y trained fudge (the presiding judge) accompanied b two officers without a legal education, to expert panels consisting of three judges, all of whom are jurists.

The rationale for integrating side judges into the legal system is their close relationsh with the target community and an increasedpublic confidence in the system. At the same time, this system has many disadvantages, such as the capacit of a non-expert judge to examine issues of substantive criminal law, criminal procedure and evidence, the fear of over-reliance on the expert judge and the inability to neutrai

The study is an empirical-quantitative one and examines a random continuous sample of cases heard b y a joint expert and non-expert panel and a sample of cases heard by an expert panel. Among the va/les considered are: type of offence; duration of the case; type and degree oj punishment; and the relationsh between the indictment and the verdict. The findings indicate that the transition to apanel of experts has led to a hgher rate of amendments made to indictments, a hiher rate of acquittas, a greater volume of legal and fictual references as well as more detailed reasoning in the judgments and verdicts, a rise in the level of reliance on legal sources, anda greater number of dissenting opinions in thejudgments.

Custom Citation

Michal Tamir & Amir Dahan, ‘Side Judges: The Case of the Israeli Military Courts’ (2012) 8(1) Socio-Legal Review 1

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)