Monday, March 1, 2010
AOC Releases Data on Diversity on California Bench
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The number of women on the bench in California increased again last year while the number of minority jurists continued to rise, according to demographic data on judges and justices released Friday by the Administrative Office of the Courts.
The AOC reported that the number of female judicial officers increased to 477 last year, and that women now constitute 29.2 percent of the bench, up from 27.1 percent in 2006.
The data reflects that the number of judges identifying their race or ethnicity other than “white-only” increased from 19.9 percent in 2006 to 22.7 percent last year. Some 371 of 1,631 total judges or justices said they did not identify as “white-only” in 2009, up from 319 in 2006.
Sixty jurists declined to provide information on their race or ethnicity last year, down from the 159 in 2006.
The AOC began collecting the data in 2006 after the enactment of Government Code Sec. 12011.5(n), which requires the group to collect and release aggregate demographic data relative to the ethnicity, race, and gender of California state judges and justices, by specific jurisdiction, on or before March 1 of each year. This is the fourth year that the council has released this information, which it collects on a voluntary basis.
Despite an overall increase in the number of self-identified white jurists on the bench, the data showed increases in the numbers of American Indians and Alaska Natives, Asians, Black or African Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, Pacific Islanders, and those who identify as “Some Other Race.”
A spokesperson for the Judicial Council said that the changes reflected judicial retirements and other departures from the bench, new judicial appointments and an increase in the number of trial court judges who have provided race/ethnicity information.
She said increasing the diversity of California’s judicial officers “to reflect the rich diversity of California’s populace continues to be” one of the council’s key goals.
Meanwhile, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday released figures showing that the number and proportion of applications for judicial appointment by minorities increased last year, and the number of applications by women held steady even as their proportion of all applications fell.
The governor’s office indicated that 100 of the 301 applicants in 2009 were minorities, compared to 80 of 262 applicants in 2008. It also indicated that 103 women applied for appointment last year, up from 101 in 2008, but down to 34.22 percent of the total applicant pool. Women made up 38.55 percent of applicants in 2008.
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