Friday, February 27, 2009
Statistics Show Judicial Applications Down Among Minorities
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The proportion of women applying for judicial appointment increased in 2008, despite a lower number of female applicants, but both the number and proportion of minority applicants decreased, according to statistics released yesterday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office.
Additional statistics also showed that the relative proportion of female applicants appointed by the governor has gone down, but remains at a level similar to the proportion of women making up the State Bar
The proportion of minority appointments continues to be generally higher than the proportion of minority attorneys eligible to practice in California.
The release marked the second time Schwarzenegger’s office has shared statistics on judicial appointments, and included cumulative data for all judicial appointments the governor has made while in office.
According to the figures released by the governor, applications for judicial appointment by minorities increased from 29 percent of the total pool in 2006 to 31 percent in 2007, but went down to just over 25 percent for 2008, while applications by women have continued to steadily increase from 33 percent of the total pool in 2006 to 36.5 percent in 2007, and to over 38 percent last year.
In light of the 2008 statistics, women now account for 33.6 percent of Schwarzenegger’s appointees to the bench, and 23.6 percent of his appointees have been minorities.
The governor’s office released the figures pursuant to a provision in SB 56, which was enacted in 2006. The law requires the governor to annually release aggregate statewide demographic data provided by all judicial applicants relative to ethnicity and gender by March 1, and imposes a similar requirement on the commission with respect to applicants recommended to it.
In a statement released with the figures, Schwarzenegger said he was “proud of the hard work” of his administration to “ensure high quality judicial appointments,” and predicted the diversity of the state court’s benches “will only continue to grow as the state bar and law schools throughout California become more diverse.”
The governor also praised his judicial appointments secretary, Sharon Majors-Lewis, as having been “instrumental in attracting the best candidates to serve in our courts.”
Lewis, the first woman and first African American to hold the post, said that her “number one priority” is “[b]uilding a strong and diverse bench with the brightest and most qualified judges,” and vowed to “continue to work hard for a bench that reflects the diversity of the people of California.”
Under SB 56, gender and racial/ethnic data is collected on a voluntary basis. The data-collection requirements were added to the bill after some lawmakers, including former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, questioned whether Schwarzenegger had appointed enough Asian-American, African-American, and Latino judges.
Yesterday’s numbers show that 101 of the 262 total applicants in 2008 indicated that they were female, 6 indicated being American Indian or Alaska Native, 17 indicated being Asian, 20 indicated being Black or African-American, 23 indicated being Hispanic, 182 indicated being White or Caucasian, and 14 indicated that they were “other” or “unknown.”
Females also made up 33.3 percent of all appointments during the 2008 calendar year, while Asians made up 6.3 percent, Blacks or African-Americans made up 8.3 percent, Hispanics made up 13.5 percent, Whites or Caucasians made up 56.3 percent, and “other/unknown” made up 14.6 percent.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company