Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

CA LGBT legal groups blast lack of LGBT judges on state bench

ONLINE_Political_Notes_11_15_LRGA coalition of LGBT legal groups in California is blasting the lack of LGBT judges on the state bench in what it is describing as a “first in the nation survey.”

Titled “The New Frontier of LGBT Equality: The California State and Federal Judiciary,” the 15-page document concludes that “LGBTs are just treading water” when it comes to being appointed or elected to serve on state and federal courts in the Golden State.

As the report notes, “even with recent appointments and election victories, the percentage of openly LGBT sitting California judges and justices still remains at a disappointing 2.4 percent.”

The Bay Area Reporter has been been reporting on the lack of LGBT judges on the state bench since 2011, when California judges were first asked if they identify as LGBT. State law requires the California Administrative Office of the Courts to annually report on the diversity of the judiciary, including on the sexual orientation and gender identity makeup of the state bench.

Responding to the questionnaire is entirely voluntary, and the identities of the lesbian, gay, and transgender judges are not disclosed. As the B.A.R. noted in a March story about the data released earlier this year, there were zero bisexual judges among the 1,655 jurists serving as of December 31, 2014. It marked the fourth year in a row that bi justices were missing from the demographic data.

In a news release about its report on the state’s judicial makeup, the California LGBT Bar Coalition stated that “among the remaining frontiers for full LGBT equality is equal representation in the state & federal judiciary. It is both ironic and sad that the very judicial institutions that we rely upon for our equality are themselves so unequal and un-inclusive of LGBT Americans.”

Among the findings highlighted in the report, the coalition noted there has never been an openly LGBT justice on the California Supreme Court and that 45 of California’s 58 counties do not have any LGBT judges.

“In other words, the LGBT community is not represented in the judiciary in 78 percent of the counties in California,” noted the coalition.

The report also highlighted that out of 438 Los Angeles County trial court judges, only nine self-identify as LGBT.

“It’s time for California to make a sustained commitment to increase LGBT representation throughout the judiciary. The legitimacy of the justice system depends on inclusion,” Herbst Foundation Professor and Dean’s Circle Scholar at the University of San Francisco School of Law Julie A. Nice states in the report.

The B.A.R. will have more about the report in its July 23 issue next Thursday.

— Matthew S. Bajko, July 15, 2015 @ 1:53 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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