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Courts Research Division
The Israeli Courts Research Division (“ICRD”) was established in December 2010 by Keren Weinshall-Margel, Ph.D. under the auspices of the Supreme Court of Israel, as an independent judiciary-based applied research unit. We strive to achieve rigorous standards of quality, objectivity, transparency and academic excellence.
The primary mission of the ICRD is to assist the courts’ management and to enhance the efficiency, quality and functioning of the Israeli judicial system by supplying policymakers with the results of objective, empirically-based, analytic research.
The ICRD reports directly to the President of the Supreme Court of Israel and the Director of the Institute of Advanced Judicial Studies. A steering committee, headed by President Asher D. Grunis, overlooks the activities of the ICRD and prioritizes its research agenda. The steering committee consists of the President, Dr. Shlomo Levin, Director of the Institute of Advanced Judicial Studies (formerly Deputy President of the Supreme Court), and Judge Yigal Mersel of the Jerusalem District Court.
Structure of the ICRD
The director of the ICRD is Dr. Gali Aviv, Her team includes two researchers – Shanee Benkin and Amit Malianker, with bar membership and degrees in both Law and Social Sciences, and three research assistants. The division is involved in its members’ ongoing education and training, e.g., through lectures on research methods from a variety of disciplines, training in statistical software and participation in academic conferences.
Our research combines standard social-science quantitative and qualitative methodologies, together with comparative legal research and in-depth legal analysis of judgments from all levels of the Israeli court system. We strive to develop methodologies specially tailored to the empirical study of judiciaries. Our data is collected using a variety of techniques and sources, such as questionnaires and interviews with judges, lawyers, administrators and academicians, field-based observations of court processes, and data from the courts’ case management system. In addition, the ICRD created original databases that incorporate information on criminal and civil proceedings.
Our research includes examination and analysis of policies, procedures and rules, as well as evaluation of potential policy reforms. Some examples of our research include, inter alia, conviction and acquittal rates in criminal proceedings in Israel; the development of “case weights” per case type, intended to optimize judicial time management and to improve case-load distribution; a study of cost-shifting practices in the Israeli court system; a study relating to the functioning and quality of small-claims courts and a study concerning class actions in Israel.
In May 2012, the State of Israel was granted observer status with the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) and is represented by the ICRD. In addition, the ICRD works closely with judiciary research institutes worldwide, primarily the U.S. Federal Judicial Center, as well as with universities and leading legal scholars in Israel. We aim to establish further links with research institutes and study centers, as well as to create bases of comparison with other judicial systems, with the view of furthering the exchange of data, ideas and methods, as well as better evaluating and evolving our policy reforms.