Monday, March 3, 2014
Governor’s, AOC’s Data Show:
Judiciary Continues to Become More Diverse as to Race, Gender
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
The number of women and minorities on the California bench continued its upward trend last year, figures released Friday show.
State law requires the governor, by March 1 of each year, to disclose aggregate statewide data regarding judicial appointments and applications. The law also requires the Administrative Office of the Courts to report data concerning the judiciary as a whole.
The governor’s report shows that Brown last year appointed eight African-American judges, constituting 11.3 percent of his appointments for the year. African Americans constituted 6.2 percent of the state’s judges at the end of last year, and at the end of 2012, which the AOC noted is up from 4.4 percent in 2006, when the figures were reported for the first time.
More Hispanic Judges
The governor last year appointed nine Hispanic judges, who were 12.7 percent of his appointees for the year, bringing the percentage of Hispanics in the judiciary as a whole to 9.1 percent, up from 8.3 percent a year ago and 6.3 percent in 2006.
Brown also appointed nine Asian-Americans to the bench. Asian-Americans are now 5.8 percent of all California judges, same as reported last year, and up from 4.4 percent in 2006.
Brown appointed 32 women to the bench last year, 45.1 percent of all of his appointments, compared to 34.7 percent of his appointees in 2012. Women now represent 32.2 percent of California judges, a full percentage point above last year.
Those figures have increased every year since the reporting requirements were adopted.
Brown appointed one American Indian judge last year—Sunshine Sykes, the first Native American judge ever appointed to the Riverside Superior Court.
The governor appointed 43 “White or Caucasian” judges and justices last year, 60.6 percent of all his appointees. Two out of every three appointees fit that category in 2012. That category accounts for 70.6 percent of the judiciary, down from 71.4 percent last year.
The governor’s office also released data regarding LGBT judges and applicants, pursuant to legislation that took effect two years ago. The data shows that Brown appointed only one judge in that category last year, compared to four the year before.
Lack of Responses
The AOC data shows that 1,015 judges identified themselves as heterosexual, 20 as lesbian, 20 as gay, none as bisexual, and one as transgender, and that 625 didn’t answer the question.
In a statement accompanying the release of the numbers, Brown pointed to “a number of notable firsts.” These included Sykes’ appointment, as well as those of Paul Lo, the first Hmong-American judge ever appointed in the country, to the Merced Superior Court; Sunil Kulkarni, the first South Asian-American judge ever appointed in Northern California, to the Santa Clara Superior Court; and Rupa Goswami, the first South Asian American woman judge ever appointed in California, to the Los Angeles Superior Court.
Those followed Brown’s appointments of Halim Dhanadina, the state’s first Muslim judge, to the Los Angeles Superior Court, as well as his appointments of the first openly gay appellate justice, first female judge in the history of the Del Norte Superior Court, first open lesbian judge of the Alameda Superior Court, and first Latino judge of the Marin Superior Court.
Brown also noted his previous appointments of Fifth District Court of Appeal Justice Rosendo Peña and Sixth District Justice Manuel Marquez as the first Latino members of those courts, which gave the state a Latino justice in every district.
Dhanadina and Goswami were both unopposed for election to the court this year. Dhanadina filed for reelection as Hal Dhanadina, and Goswami as Rupa G. Searight, using her married name.
The following chart was provided by the Governor’s Office:
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