Thursday, August 31, 2006
Bill Calls for Disclosure of Ethnicity, Gender Data of Judicial Applicants
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would be required to disclose aggregate statewide ethnicity and gender data provided by all judicial applicants under an amendment to a bill providing for the addition of 50 superior court judges next year.
The amendment, passed by the Assembly Tuesday, is the latest in a series of amendments to SB 56, introduced by Sen. Joseph Dunn, D-Garden Grove.
Originally, the bill would have implemented a Judicial Council study calling for the creation of 150 new judgeships over three years. That study identified San Bernardino, Riverside, Fresno and Sacramento counties as having the greatest need for new judges, and recommended they receive more than one-quarter of the new positions.
Los Angeles County would have gotten seven new judgeships over three years. The bill sat moribund, however, until the Legislature recently appropriated the funds for the first 50 positions.
But earlier this month the number of new judges called for by the bill was reduced to 25, then a few days later, increased back to 50.
The bill ran into difficulty, Kate Howard, legislative director for the Judicial Council and others reported, because Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez feels the governor has not appointed enough Asian American, African American, and Latino judges. Democrats were also upset at Schwarzenegger’s appointments of former Republican Congressman James Rogan and Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura H. Parsky, daughter of President George W. Bush confidant Gerald Parsky, to judgeships in Orange and San Diego counties, respectively.
Schwarzenegger has maintained that his appointments reflect greater diversity than recommendations coming out of the State Bar. Tuesday’s amendment would also require the State Bar to collect and release statewide ethnicity and gender data provided by judicial applicants reviewed by the bar, and a statewide summary of its judicial recommendations.
The amendment also requires the Administrative Office of the Courts to collect and release the ethnicity and gender data provided by justices and judges by specific jurisdiction.
The data required by the bill may only be collected from judges and applicants on a voluntary basis.
As amended, the bill was passed by the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, and sent to the Appropriations Committee.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company