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The Survey Says California Courts Are More Diverse Than Ever

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By George Khoury, Esq. on March 12, 2019 3:00 PM

The annual survey results are in, and of all the California state judges polled, this year's state judiciary is the most diverse it has ever been.

Notably though, looking at the data over the past 13 years, this trend has pretty much been annual news every year since the judiciary started tracking the data, as every year, the numbers continue to improve.

Data Collection Leads to Better Data

In addition to racial and ethnic diversity improving, gender diversity is also improving. For instance, in the trial courts in California, in 2007, less than 27% of judges were women. In 2019, that number jumped to over 36%.

Governor Jerry Brown was credited for helping to move the numbers up with his recent wave of almost 200 judicial appointments in the state. More than half were women, and over 40% were non-white. However, those appointments, like ones from previous years, only provide for small incremental growth of a percentage point or two per year, for gender and race demographics.

Though slow, the datasets provided by the judiciary do show that the incremental increases are adding up over the years. And at this rate, it won't be until 2035 that the judiciary is balanced between men and women.

LGBT Justice

In terms of LGBT representation on the bench, the state made even smaller incremental gains, but year-over-year gains nonetheless. On a more promising note in this regard, the number of judges who have refused to provide information on gender identity and sexual orientation has consistently fallen, year-over-year, suggesting that judges are becoming more willing to share this information publicly.

Interestingly, the datasets breakdown the numbers for race and gender by year, but not for sexual orientation and gender identity. The datasets do show the breakdown of race, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation by county, which provides an interesting snapshot of the various level of representation throughout the state.

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