The Shmooze

Lawyer: Czech Expert Biased Because He's Jewish

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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A Jewish judicial expert on extremism in the Czech Republic has quit his job after having been accused of being biased because of his Jewish background. According to Radio Prague, Michal Mazel’s resignation followed the filing of an objection by lawyer Petr Kočí on behalf of his client, a member of the extremist Workers’ Party for Social Justice. The lawyer’s 22-year-old female client had been charged with inciting ethnic hatred.

Mazel, whose testimony had helped to ban the right-wing Workers’ Party (the predecessor of the Workers’ Party for Social Justice), said he had simply had enough of the intimidation he has had to endure in recent years. He reported that neo-Nazis were threatening him online, including suggesting that someone send him a black mamba (a highly deadly snake) as a Hanukkah gift. Mazel claimed that the fact that there are just a few judicial experts on extremism in the country made them vulnerable to attack. He went on to recommend that the judicial system replace the individual experts with a committee on extremism and racism.

The lawyer’s objection to Mazel’s testimony was met with outrage from the Czech legal community. While the judge in the case will soon render a decision on the objection made against Mazel, the Czech Bar Association is considering disciplinary proceedings against the lawyer.

Former justice minister Tomáš Sokol was among those who spoke out against Mazel’s accuser. “I do not think that race or ethnic background in and of themselves can be grounds for an objection claiming someone is biased — be they a judicial expert or even a judge. Whether we are talking about the Holocaust or National Socialism… just because you are Jewish doesn’t mean you will find it [more abhorrent]; both should be abhorrent to any sensitive and decent person,” he stated.


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