THE INTERNATIONAL ACADEMY OF TRIAL JUDGES
46th Annual Business Meeting
Judge James A. Stotler, President
Israel ~ Jordan
President Jim A. Stotler
Judge David Brickner
Judge Sheila Fell
Judge Ted Howard
Judges Fred Horn & Carolyn Kirkwood
Judge Derek Hunt
Judge Cheryl Leininger
Commissioner Barry Michaelson & Jane
Judge Mark Millard
Judge Jamoa Moberly & Mike
Secretary-Treasurer Tully Seymour & Jan
Judge John Zitny
Sarah Guevara, CAO
Diane Bowen, CAO Emeritus
Mrs. Sandra Hall
WEDNESDAY: The Academy Fellows arrived and transferred to the historic Drisco Hotel in Tel Aviv. The hotel is located a short distance from Alma Beach, Jaffa and the Mediterranean Sea. A Welcome Dinner was held at the famous Old Man by the Sea Restaurant.
THURSDAY: In the morning, the Group departed by motorcoach for a panoramic bus tour of Tel Aviv. The tour ended in Kings Square, where a monument dedicated to former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is located. Rabin was assassinated just steps from the monument. He was a prominent and popular military and political figure. Many Israelis loved him and remember where they were the day he was assassinated. Our tour guide explained the sentiment felt in Israel upon the news of his death is comparable to that of many Americans when John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
The Group arrived for a scheduled meeting with Tel Aviv District Court Judges Rachel Barkai, Eitan Orenstein, and Harry Kirsh at the Tel Aviv District Courthouse. Israel’s government system functions as parliamentary democracy. Its three branches of government are the legislature (the Knesset), the executive (the prime minister and multi-party), and the judiciary (the court system). Israel’s relatively new legal system is a hybrid of laws as it consists of laws formed under previous rule as well as laws enacted by the Knesset. The Law and Administration Ordinance allows pre-existing laws to remain in effect if they don’t conflict with those enacted by the Knesset. Israel does not have an official constitution or bill of rights.
Israel has six jurisdictions and general courts. The Supreme Court, district court, and magistrates’ court make up the three levels of general courts. The magistrate and district courts house various areas of litigation and serve as trial courts. Israel also has military, labor, and religious courts. The Tel Aviv District Court is the only district court in its jurisdiction. The Supreme Court has 12 justices and can be used as a trial court but mostly hears appeals. In 1961, Nazi officer Adolf Eichmann was tried at a district court and received the death penalty; this was the last execution carried out in Israel. District and magistrate courts have different jurisdictions based on the sentence of a crime. Magistrate Courts handle cases facing a sentence up to seven years in prison in criminal matters and $710,000 in civil matters. The division between civil matters in magistrate and district courts is similar to the division between Civil Limited and Unlimited in California as dollar amounts separate them. A civil judge in Israel will hear 150-200 cases per year and most cases take up to five years to resolve. Unlike the United States, there are no jury trials in Israel. One or more judges will decide on each matter and write the reasoning for their decision.
Excerpt from Judge Orenstein’s PowerPoint: Israel is divided into six jurisdictions, each district has several magistrate courts and one district court. Most cases are heard by a single judge (besides appeals and offenses punishable by at least 10 years imprisonment which in 3 judges are presiding).
Israel also uses a level system for its judges. Each judge is appointed by a nomination committee and to a level. Of the approximately 700 judges in Israel, between 400-500 are first-level judges. All judges are guaranteed a lifetime appointment but must retire by the age of 70. However, the age limit may change soon as Judge Barkai mentioned it is becoming more difficult to find attorneys seeking appointment. The meeting concluded with questions from the Group and our President presenting honorary member certificates to the host judges.
The Group departed to Neve Tzedek, the first neighborhood in Tel Aviv, for a tasting lunch at Levinsky Market. The Group enjoyed food prepared by Chef “Dr Shakshuka”. He starred in the television show Kitchen Impossible and Netflix series Somebody feed Phil. After lunch, members of the Academy traveled a short distance by motorcoach to tour Old Jaffa, one of world’s oldest ports. Old Jaffa has beautiful cobblestone buildings and roads now filled with lively restaurants and shops. The Group returned to the hotel for dinner.
FRIDAY: In the morning, the Group departed for a full day of sightseeing. They began the tour on Rothschild Boulevard and walked a short distance to Independence Hall. In 1948, David Ben-Gurion’s declaration of the creation of the State of Israel was held in the Hall. The Group was not able to tour inside as it was being renovated. The Group walked a short distance to the Shalom Tower Galleries museum where a local tour guide explained in detail the formation of Israel as a nation state. The Group toured the museum, which was filled with news articles, art, and several small-scale models of development plans for Israel. The Group continued their walk along Rothschild Boulevard to an outdoor market filled with jewelry and artifact vendors. The Group enjoyed a family-style lunch at Canaan Restaurant before returning to the hotel.
The Group enjoyed a full day at leisure and met at the hotel’s Chef Restaurant in the evening for dinner.
In the morning, the Group departed for a full day of sightseeing in Caesarea, Megiddo, and Haifa.
Caesarea is a historically and biblically significant city. It was founded in the first century B.C. by King Herod and once was governed by Pontius Pilate. Caesarea is located between Haifa and Tel Aviv. King Herod’s construction and development made it one of the most important cities in the Roman Empire. Caesarea’s former amphitheater is now a concert venue. Biblically, many important events occurred in Caesarea. According to Acts 10:12, the baptism of a gentile named Cornelius took place in Caesarea, and Jesus’s apostle Paul was arrested here. In the 6th century, a hall of justice was built within a government building. The Group gathered together at the hall of justice for a photo and then departed to Megiddo.
Megiddo is unique because it is surrounded by acres of flat land that connect the east to the west without the difficult terrain of mountains. The acres of flat land made it a very militarily strategic location. Throughout history, many battles have occurred at Megiddo. According to the Bible, the battle to end all battles, commonly referred to as Armageddon, will take place here. The Group enjoyed a short video presentation of Megiddo before hiking to the top of the hill.
The Group enjoyed a buffet-style lunch at Daliat el Carmel, a Druze village. The Druze are a group of people who practice the religion Druze. The religion has historic roots in Islam but has very different cultural and religious practices.
The tour ended in Haifa, a very diverse city. Druze, Muslims, Christians, Jews, and Baha’i all live here. A beautiful Baha’i temple is located on top of Mount Carmel. The Group was able to view the temple and several of the 19 gardens that surround it from a lookout point facing the Haifa bay. Like the Druze, the Baha’i religion also has historic roots in Islam.
The group arrived at the Hotel in the Sea of Galilee or a two-night stay.
In the morning the Group departed for a full day of sightseeing that began with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, which is only a sea by name. The group enjoyed sailing the lake as the weather and wind made it a perfect day for sailing. One of the boat's tour guides taught the Group how to dance the Horah, a traditional Jewish dance.
The Group then visited Kuneitra, a disputed territory between Syria and Israel. This area is heavily monitored by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) as it separates Israel from Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. The Group hiked a short distance to see the former Syrian bunkers. From the lookout point, the Group was able to see the borders that separate Israel from her neighbors as well as several IDF training camps.
The Group returned to the motorcoach and proceeded to the Golan Heights Winery for a tour and tasting. The Group enjoyed lunch at a local brewery, and later returned to the hotel for dinner.
In the morning, the Group met in the lobby to depart to Jerusalem for a full day of sightseeing.
Capernaum was the Group’s first stop. Capernaum is also a biblically significant location. Jesus Christ spent a significant amount of time ministering and performing miracles in Capernaum. The Group walked around to see the ancient synagogue ruins and church of St. Peter, and then departed to the Mount of Beatitudes.
The Mount of Beatitudes is where Jesus gave the famous Sermon on the Mount. The Group walked up the slope to the Catholic Church located near the top of the hill. The Beatitudes from the Book of Matthew are quoted on stones surrounding the church. The Group toured the inside of the church and then departed to Magdala, believed to be the birthplace or once home of Mary Magdalene. The Group toured Magdala’s ancient ruins and observed artifacts. The Group then traveled a short distance to the Magdalena Restaurant for lunch and then boarded the motorcoach for its final stop at the church of Annunciation.
The Church of Annunciation is located at the top of a hill in Nazareth. The Catholic Church’s décor focuses on Mary, the mother of Jesus. Outside the church, there is a beautiful sculpture of Mary, and the walls that surround the outside entrance as well as inside the church, have paintings of Mary donated by artists from all over the world. The Group spent time touring the church before departing to the hotel.
The Group arrived at the Hotel in Jerusalem for a 5-night stay. Dinner was held inside the hotel.
In the morning, the Group met in the lobby to depart to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for a scheduled meeting with the Dean of Faculty of Law and guided tour of Mount Scopus.
The Group met with the Dean of Faculty of Law, Daphna Lewinsohn-Zamir and a few Faculty of Law staff members. The Dean spoke to the group about her educational background, experience, and the law school at Hebrew University. She studied in the U.S. at Harvard and Yale and now teaches property law at Hebrew University. In order to become a professor in Israel you must have a Ph.D., and many professors have multiple degrees.
There are over 1,000 law students at the Hebrew University, the oldest university in Israel, and over seventy percent will double major. Tuition to attend the university is around $3,000 per year. The Dean explained how the university helps its students find clerkships, something that is difficult for local private law schools to do. The Dean also spoke about the one-year prep program provided to assist applicants who want to attend the university. There are also extra courses provided for students who do not speak Hebrew well.
Students in Israel are older than students in the U.S. when they begin college because they must complete their military service prior to enrolling. Also, many students choose to take a year off after their military service to travel the world. After students graduate from the Law School, they must pass the bar exam. The Academy members presented a $1,000 scholarship donation to the Law School, and were subsequently informed, by the Dean, how the donation would be used, “I plan to use your donation to finance the Dvorit Peles prize. Dvorit was a student in our faculty. She died young after courageously fighting cancer. The prize was originally initiated by her parents some years ago, but they are not able to fund it anymore. The prize is given to a student who excels in her/his studies while also engaging in work in the community, and who needs financial assistance.”
The Academy members ended their visit with a tour of the Law Library, the Law School Department, and a guided tour of Mount Scopus. The Group enjoyed lunch at a local restaurant.
After lunch, the Group arrived at the Jewish Quarter to see the Temple ruins and visit the Wailing Wall. The Group then departed to the City of David for dinner and a spectacular light show at the Tower of David.
The Group enjoyed a morning at leisure before boarding the motorcoach for a scheduled meeting at the Supreme Court of Jerusalem with Justice Rubenstein.
The Group took several photos in front of the Supreme Court before the inside tour. The tour guide escorted the Group through the Supreme Court and gave a tour of a few courtrooms. Each courtroom was slightly different, one courtroom had two balconies. The guide explained how each balcony, which looks like a jury box, is used; one side is for the press to sit and the opposite side is used for prisoners. The prisoners may ask permission to address the Court directly. The judicial bench in each courtroom has three chairs. The Senior Judge will write the decision if all judges hearing the case agree. The Supreme Court will hear about 11,000 cases per year.
The Group stood in attention for Justice Rubenstein before sitting for a round table meeting. Justice Rubenstein introduced himself and spoke briefly about his professional experience, specifically in peace treaty negotiations. In the late nineties, territory disputes between Israel and surrounding countries was the main challenge as there were no physical boundaries, only verbal boundaries. Justice Rubenstein spoke about his role in negotiations during the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty at Camp David in 1978 and 1979, and negotiations with Syria in 1999 and 2000 at the Camp David Summit. Israel’s Peace Treaty with Jordan has been in effect for 42 years but negotiations with Lebanon have not been successful.
The Justice is one of the few, if not the only one in some cases, still alive who was present for these negotiations. Justice Rubenstein has worked with several U.S. presidents including Presidents Carter, Regan, Bush Sr., and Clinton, and thinks President Trump has been good to Israel. They appreciated his decision to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem but did not necessarily like his decision to pull out of Syria. Differences aside, Justice Rubenstein considers the United States to be a best friend to Israel, and their legal system tries to uphold the same values we do.
The Group enjoyed a morning and afternoon at leisure and met in the hotel lobby in the evening for a Farewell Dinner.
Judge Stotler thanked everyone for coming on the trip and believed it has been a great trip with a great group. He thought the trip went smoothly despite initial security concerns as Israel had been on high alert. Judge Stotler spoke briefly about the arrest of Jesus Christ in Gethsemane from a legal standpoint. He mentioned that Jesus was not given due process, offer of representation by counsel, the ability to call witnesses or present evidence, or cross examination during his three to four-day trial.
Upon motion by Commissioner Michaelson, second by Judge Seymour, the minutes of the 2018 South Carolina/Georgia trip were unanimously approved as written.
The Treasurer’s Report was submitted by Diane Bowen and explained by Judge Seymour reflecting a beginning balance of $2,939.88 as of September 13, 2018. Income derived from dues, initiation fees and scholarship donations was $4,175.53. Expenses totaled $4,651.52. The balance on hand as of October 15, 2019 was $2,463.89. Judge Seymour also addressed the Academy’s tax status. Upon motion by Judge Kirkwood, second by Judge Howard, the report was approved as presented.
The Membership Report was presented by CAO Sarah E. Guevara and discussed. Two members are delinquent for 2018 and 2019 dues. Upon motion by Judge Leininger, second by Judge Kirkwood, they were dropped for non-payment of dues.
Eight new members joined the Academy, and there were two resignations, and one passed away this last year; Commissioner Tom Schulte. There were six pending nominations from 2017. There were various nominations pending for 2018 and 2019. The Group discussed composing an email blast to past nominees to boost membership and/or trip attendance. Upon motion by Judge Leininger, second by Judge Moberly, the email blast was approved. The Group also discussed electing Judge Leininger to email honorary members trip information. Upon motion of Judge Hunt, second by Judge Brickner, the email was approved.
The Nominating Committee usually consisting of past presidents, this year was chaired by Judge Stotler and Judge Hunt. They presented the following recommendations: Judge Leininger as President, Commissioner Michaelson as President-elect, and Judges Seymour and Murphy will continue as Secretary-Treasurer (to facilitate banking).
The nomination for Chancellor (and 2022 president) was opened to the floor. After discussion, Judge Brickner agreed to take the position as Chancellor and President in 2022. The nominations were moved closed and unanimously approved. Sarah Guevara is the current CAO but Diane will continue some functions, and the Academy will delegate some of Diane’s business functions.
Judge Leinenger presented a tentative itinerary for the 2020 trip. It will be Spain and Portugal, including Madrid, Seville, Evora, and Lisbon. Cultural and scenic activities will include the ancient city of Toledo, the Cathedral of Seville, and La Sagrada Familia. There could be a pre or post trip. Subsequently, a pre-trip to Barcelona was selected. Two dates were presented for the Spain trip.
At 11:15 a.m., the meeting was adjourned.
The afternoon was free, and some members walked to the Israel Museum where the Dead Sea Scrolls are exhibited, among other exhibits. In the evening, some members of the Group departed for home.
In the morning members going on the post-trip to Jordan left the hotel and traveled by bus to the border of Jordan and Israel and there transferred to a Jordanian bus and guide and continued into the country, visiting Mt. Nebo, the alleged burial site of Moses which overlooked the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea. A visit to the mosaic city of Madaba and a church dating from 565 A.D. filled with original mosaic tiles, followed by lunch.
The group then checked into the Hotel late in the evening and enjoyed a dinner at the beautiful hotel.
The group left the hotel and walked across the street to the entrance of ancient Petra originally known to its inhabitants as Raqmu, it is a historical and archaeological city in southern Jordan. Petra lies around Jabal Al-Madbah, a basin surrounded by mountains which form the eastern flank of the Arabah valley that runs from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. The area around Petra has been inhabited as early as 7,000 BC and might have been settled in what would become the capital city of the Nabataean kingdom as early as the 4th century BC. Access to the city is through a ¾ mile gorge which Academy members walked through admiring the ancient water conduit system, and the “Rose City” because of the color of the stone from which it is carved. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985. Some members rode horse drawn carriages through the gorge to the Treasury and back. Following the visit to Petra, the group left Petra for the Dead Sea and checked into the Hotel for two nights.
TUESDAY: Members were free to enjoy the resort and many enjoyed floating in the Dead Sea, and taking a Dead Sea mud bath.
WEDNESDAY: The group enjoyed the day and left in the evening for a return to the Tel Aviv Airport for return flights to home.
Written by Sarah E. Guevara, Chief Administrative Officer
Jordan Minutes written by Diane Z. Bowen, Chief Administrative Officer Emeritus
I certify that all Fellows of the Academy listed above attended all the meetings of the Academy.
James A. Stotler, President