Friday, August 31, 2012

12-09-01 The inexplicable death of Chief Clerk of the Supreme Court of Israel Shmaryahu Cohen should be thoroughly and publicly investigated!

 Shmaryahu Cohen (שמריהו כהן) -  the late Chief Clerk of the Supreme Court of the State of Israel

I was asked why my work is objectionable in the State of Israel.
Below are some passages from the paper, received for publication after anonymous review by 4 international data mining experts.
One of the reviewers commented that my conclusions were "not terse enough".
Integrity, or Lack Thereof, of the Electronic Record Systems of the Courts of the State of Israel
The study was narrowly focused on analysis of integrity of the electronic record systems in the national courts (Supreme Court, district courts, detainees’ courts).  The study was not based on legal analysis of these records, or challenges to the rationale of the adjudication, except for the laws pertaining to the maintenance of court records.  Instead, irregularities in date, signature, certification, and registration procedures were examined through data mining methods, executed on the online public records of the courts.
Initially, integrity of the basic components of the systems were examined: indices of all cases, calendars, dockets (lists of records in a given file), indices of decisions, and compliance of these components with the Regulations of the Courts, pertaining to the maintenance of court records. and consistency of data among these components (e.g., the date a record was filed, as listed in the docket, and as indicated in the body of the record itself, see Online Appendix for links to data).
Subsequently, a cursory survey was conducted of the pattern judges’ signatures and clerk’s certification of records over the past two decades. The significance of events around 2001-2003 was identified.
Accordingly, a more detailed survey was conducted of records of that period, including data mining relative to changes in distribution of specific word combinations, related to certification, over time (e.g., “Chief Clerk”, “Registrar”, “Shmaryahu Cohen” (the late Chief Clerk of the Supreme Court), “Boaz Okon” (former Registrar of the Supreme Court), "Sarah Lifschitz", "True Copy", etc). 
Subsequently, court records that were identified as outliers in such distributions (e.g. Decision records bearing the name of the late Chief Clerk Shmaryahu Cohen, issued later than the date of his death) were individually examined. Such data mining procedures enabled the discovery of hundreds of fraudulent decision records.
Once the death of the late Chief Clerk of the Supreme Court on March 7, 2002, was identified as a key event in this context, Google searches were conducted to further elucidate the event.  It turned out that he reportedly died of “sudden cardiac arrest”, after toasting a retiring staff member in an office party.  Additionally, Google searches discovered a complaint, filed with the Israel Police by a family member/friend two weeks after the event, alleging murder.  However, the complaint failed to present any reasonable motive for such murder.  Regardless, web pages were discovered with various conspiracy theories in this regard.
Based on the findings from such data mining efforts, requests were filed on the Ministry of Justice and the Administration of Courts, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (1988), for records that would provide the legal foundation for the profound changes in certification patterns between 2001-3,  the appointment records of chief clerks of the courts, the appointment records of the Registrars of Certifying Authorities, pursuant to the Electronic Signature Act (2001), secondary legislation that might have authorized the changes, etc.
Additionally, outside sources were reviewed for information regarding the history of the development and implementation of the electronic records systems of the courts: media reports, and in particular the 2010 State Ombudsman’s Report 60b.
The analysis was also based on consultations with Israeli law and computing/cryptology experts.
The results of the current study show that senior members of the judiciary and the legal profession exploited the transition to new electronic record systems in the courts of the State of Israel over the past decade to undermine the integrity of the justice system.  It appears that updates in the electronic records systems and the passage of the Electronic Signature Act made it necessary to decide between the development of systems, based on valid, lawful specifications and lawful digital signatures, or systems based on no specifications and no digital signatures at all.
The results show that effectively, decision was made around 2002 in favor of the latter option.  The most obvious trait of the systems now in place, is that among thousands of electronic public legal records, which were examined as part of the current study, not a single digitally signed record was discovered.
Furthermore, the findings suggest that such decision required the neutralization of the main watchdogs, relative to integrity of legal records: the chief clerks of the Supreme Court and the district courts, and the Registrar of Certifying Authorities. 
It was also necessary to devise ways to circumvent the valid certification procedures, still in existence in paper form, as documented in the fraudulent certifications by the office of the Chief Clerk of the Supreme Court (see Online Appendix for figures an data), and the fraudulent Apostille certification procedure (Figure 5).
Finally, although the online publication of court records could have increased public access and transparency of the courts, ways were devised, whereby the online public access system would not permit the public to distinguish between valid and void court records. Separate data bases were concealed in the case management system of the courts, where public access is denied.  Therefore, the perception of public access was created, while in fact public access and transparency of the courts were undermined. [11]
Finally, this study is a call for action by computing experts in general, and data mining experts in particular, in the safeguard of Human Rights and integrity of governments in the Digital Era.