Thursday, April 28, 2011
A day in the Netanya Court
I spent a tiring day in the Netanya Court. Five cases were invited to appear at 830 AM and our turn arrived at about 1 PM. So I sat there hearing all the debates and learning how it works. The Judge mostly tried to force the lawyers to agree among themselves, or she ordered another hearing two - three months from now demanding some other document. Most of the time was spent in the wording of documents. She masterfully manipulated the hearing to avoid having to decide. When our case arrrived, it was mostly dedicated to formulate the accusation document, and the defense was not given any opportunity to have a say. She even sent me out of the room to avoid any technical confrontation.
The case is the Local Authority demanding a very large retroactive payment from a restaurant in a village. They are accused of having dumped large amounts of FOG (lipids) into the sewage system (Pic: FOG obstruction). At that time, the Local Authority measured BOD5 levels and over 250 mg/lt a large penalty was paid. The law was changed, because average Israeli sewage has 550 mg/lt BOD so everybody was in contravention. Moreover, BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand during 5 days) is imprecise and variable as the same sample can produce very different lab results, and is not used in regulations. But the wrongness and the absurdity of the law at that time is of no interest to the lawyers or the Judge.
Our defense line is to demonstrate that the Local Authority did not follow strict sampling protocols, kept no detailed records, that their methods were primitive and doubtful. The Judge is siding with the Local Authority, appearing allergic to the idea that dedicated public servants could be careless or technically incompetent.