The classical division of state power into legislative, executive, and judicial branches is theoretical nonsense. During the Renaissance, Westerners imported such division, along with democracy and classical arts, due to their uncritical fascination with all things ancient. The three-branch division was never practiced, and could be. Everyone acquainted with mechanics knows how hard it is to balance a dynamic system with three centers of gravity. In social chaos, such a system invariably falls to one of its branches. In Ancient Rome, the emperors usurped all three branches of power.
In semi-democratic societies, the judicial branch always seems to prevail. Courts can invalidate legislative and executive acts, while the last two branches cannot check the power of the courts: once judges are appointed, they are independent. It was thought originally that the legislature checks the power of the courts because they—the courts—can decide only according to the laws. That proved wrong as courts creatively reinterpreted the laws and even mandated that the legislature change or amend some laws. The power of legal interpretation effectively gave courts legislative power.
The Israeli Supreme Court already micromanages military affairs, such as the path of the separation barrier. So far, both the Israeli and US Supreme Courts have refrained from hearing foreign policy matters, but in theory nothing precludes them from voiding a legislative or executive decision to start a war. Courts control everything and no one controls the courts.
Media controls the legislature and the government, but cannot control the courts. Judges are often appointed for life, and don’t care about public disapproval. Possessing the almost divine power of dispensing life, death, and imprisonment, many judges have lost touch with reality. Everyone thinks he understands politics, but judicial acts are highly technical, not an easy subject for public control. Courts gain control over media by interpreting hate speech and libel laws.
Why then, does the Torah prescribe a system of judges? Upon entering Canaan, the Hebrews were told to set up judges in each township to decide all matters. The Torah acts on the presumption that a mini-monarchy is already there: Hebrew clans have hereditary leaders. A strong judiciary, therefore, mitigates the power of hereditary executives. Hebrew judges had very little latitude. The number of legislative acts was minuscule, as the judges only relied on the commandments. Religious laws were interpreted similarly among townships, and the religious interpretation was very conservative, leaving no room for judicial activism. Hebrew society was a clan-level constitutional monarchy with laissez-faire legislation.
The current system is worse.