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Judicial Diversity is Lacking, But Here’s What to Do to Improve, Report Says

Posted Feb 2, 2009 4:13 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Women and minorities are still underrepresented on the state trial and appellate court bench, regardless whether the judges are elected or appointed to their positions.

But there are things that can be done to include their chances of winning seats proportionate to their representation in the general population, according to a report (PDF) by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.

Among them: Judicial selection committees should actively recruit for and advertise positions, and judicial salaries should be increased, reports the Daily Record.

A press release offers a list of 10 best practices for attracting the best and the brightest candidates.

“We’re not advocating affirmative action and we’re not saying that you save a slot for women and minorities,” says Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, a co-author of the report who serves as counsel to the Brennan Center. “What we’re saying is, get the best and brightest into the applicant pool and judge them on their merits after that.”

Because the center didn't have funding to study all states, it discusses 10 in the report. They are: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Utah.

Additional coverage:

Providence Journal: "Opportunity is knocking for legal diversity"

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