Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, March 2, 2017


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Judicial Council Report Says:

Bench’s Diversity Continues Slow, but Steady, Increase




The California state bench last year continued its slow, but steady, growth in diversity, continuing a trend that has existed throughout the 11 years that collection and reporting of data on the subject has been required by statute, the Judicial Council reported yesterday.

“Increasing the diversity of California’s judicial officers to reflect the rich diversity of California’s populace continues to be a key goal of the Judicial Council,” the council said in a press release.

Government Code §12011.5(n) requires the Judicial Council to collect and release aggregate demographic data on California state justices and judges by March 1 every year. The section, as amended over time, requires that the council survey judges as to their race/ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and veteran and disability status and report the collective results.

Participation in the survey is not mandated, and results are only reported for those judges who choose to participate.

One-Third Female

Yesterday’s report shows that women now represent 33.5 percent of superior court judges, compared to 32.9 percent last year and 26.8 percent in 2006. It further shows that the percentage of judges in each ethnic minority category has increased over the past 11 years.

American Indians or Alaska Natives were 0.5 percent of the judiciary last year, according to the report, the same as the previous year and up from 0.1 percent in 2006. Judges identifying as Black or African American were 6.9 percent last year compared  to 6.5 percent last year and 4.4 percent in 2006, while Asian judges were 6.5 percent this year and last, and 4.4 percent in 2006.

Hispanic or Latino judges were 10 percent of those surveyed last year, 9.8 percent the year before, and 6.3 percent 11 years ago; Pacific Islanders 0.2 percent last year and the year before compared to 0.1 percent in 2006.

White judges were 68.8 percent of the total last year, 69.2 percent the year before, and 70.1 percent in 2006). Judges describing themselves as being of Some Other Race were 1.0 percent last year, 1.2 percent the year before, and 0.2 percent in 2006.

Judges identifying as being of More Than One Race were 3.4 percent last year, same as the year before, compared to 4.4 percent in 2006. Only 2.5 percent of judges did not respond to the survey, down from 2.6 in the 2015 survey and 9.9 percent in the first survey.

Sexual Orientation Data

This is the sixth year that the study includes data on gender identity and sexual orientation, as required by a law passed in 2011. More than 68 percent of respondents provided information about gender identity/sexual orientation, reporting the following: Heterosexual, 65.6 percent; Lesbian, 1.3 percent; Gay, 1.5 percent; Bisexual, 0.1 percent; Transgender, 0.1 percent; and Information not provided, 31.5 percent.

In addition, this is the third year that the study includes data on veteran and disability status. These questions were first asked of justices and judges who were new to the bench during the 2014 calendar year, although judges appointed before this date are free to update this aspect of their demographic profile if they choose.

Of the 360 trial court judges responding to the question about their status as a veteran, 31 said they have served in the military. Of the 363 judges responding to the question concerning their disability status, eight said they have a disability.

Los Angeles County

The data was also broken down by county. Los Angeles Superior Court judges were 34.7 percent female, 0.9 percent American Indian or Alaska Native, 9.3 percent Asian, 10 percent African American, 14.2 percent Hispanic or Latino, 0.4 percent Pacific Islander, 56.9 percent White, 1.3 percent other, 3.3 percent multiracial, and 3.6 percent not reporting.

Of the county’s 450 responding judges, 167 did not respond to the question on sexual orientation. Of those who did, three said they were lesbian and eight said they were gay.

Six judges said they were veterans and three said they were disabled.

The Judicial Council’s release followed Tuesday’s issuance of Gov. Jerry Brown’s statutorily required report on diversity of both judicial appointments and judicial applications, as reported on in yesterday’s MetNews.


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