Gavel Grab

Archive for the 'Diversity on the Bench' Category

Sotomayor: Room for Greater Diversity on Supreme Court

There is still room for greater diversity on the U.S. Supreme Court, after considering gender, race and ethnicity, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said in Oklahoma City last week.

“We don’t have one criminal defense lawyer on our court,” she said, according to a Wall Street Journal Law Blog post. In addition, there are no justices on the bench from solo practices or having big law experience, she said.

“The president should be paying attention to that broader diversity question,” Justice Sotomayor remarked. Read more

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Three Nominees for U.S. Bench in Texas Win Senators’ Praise

United_States_Capitol_dome_daylightThree of President Obama’s nominees for the federal district courts in Texas were praised at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing by the state’s two Republican senators, the Dallas Morning News reported.

The three include U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman of San Antonio, who would become the state’s first openly gay federal judge if confirmed. The three individuals were selected by the White House in a deal earlier this year with the Texas senators.

Judicial vacancies in Texas have been described as at a “crisis point” (see Gavel Grab.) The nominees still must win approval by the committee and, if that occurs, from the full Senate. Read more

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Senate Unanimously Confirms Appeals Court Judge

pryorThe U.S. Senate voted 97-0 on Monday to confirm attorney Jill Pryor of Georgia for a seat on the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, according to The Hill. President Obama first nominated Pryor in February 2012.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Pryor’s two-and-a-half-year wait before confirmation was “longer than any other currently pending judicial nominee,” and he blamed partisan politics.

Nonetheless, Leahy said, “This year the Senate has confirmed 61 nominees to the circuit and district courts and in doing so, it has hit an historic milestone for diversity on the Federal appeals courts.  More women and people of color are serving on the federal appellate bench than ever before.”

 

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Commission Advances Court Nomination of Stanford Law Professor

Cuéllar

Cuéllar

Gov. Jerry Brown’s nomination of Stanford law professor Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, a Mexican immigrant to the United States, to the California Supreme Court was confirmed unanimously on Thursday by the state Commission on Judicial Appointments. The nomination next will appear before voters on the ballot in November.

Cuéllar received a rating of exceptionally well qualified from a state bar evaluating commission, according to a Los Angeles Times article. When the nomination first was announced, it sparked attention for the statement it made about diversity on the bench (see Gavel Grab).

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Judge: Diversity Helps Court Avoid ‘Echo Chamber’ Syndrome

Judge Wood

Judge Wood

In her first address to a LGBT organization, Chief Judge Diane Wood of the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals discussed the importance of diversity on the bench and in the legal workplace.

“The courts benefit from diversity,” Judge Wood told Equality Illinois, according to the Windy City Times. “Every person’s experience is unique and it’s our duty to serve everybody. … If you have a diverse legal profession, you learn from the experiences of the people around you and from your clients.”

Judge Wood said about judges, “At the [S]eventh [C]ircuit we of course receive cases of different kinds. You write opinions and hope they’re correct. I can assure you that the right way to approach that is not live in an echo chamber…I need different viewpoints. I talk to colleagues. I talk to my law clerks. I try to read. We need diversity to avoid that echo chamber phenomenon.” Read more

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Groups Criticize the Lack of Judicial Diversity

During this judicial election season, groups from various parts of the nation are striving to improve the reality of diversity in courts.

A coalition of eight Asian American bars denounced the lack of Asians among Gov. Jerry Brown’s 10 new judicial appointments to the California Superior Court in mid-July “as lagging behind Northern California’s demographics,” INQUIRER.net reported.

The Coalition of Asian Pacific Islander Bar Associations of Northern California stated that Gov. Brown “lags far behind the record of his Republican predecessor, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who appointed 13 Asian American judges in Northern California during his two terms.” Read more

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Milestone Judicial Achievements for Women in Indiana and Iowa

New Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Rush

New Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Rush

Diversity on the bench is in the spotlight in two Midwest states today after milestone achievements by two women.

Loretta Rush, the only woman on Indiana’s Supreme Court, has been named the state’s first female chief justice in a unanimous vote, according to Indystar. Rush is only the second woman to ever serve on Indiana’s highest court.

“It’s not just about a chief,” she said. “It’s about the five of us setting the rule of law in Indiana, protecting the rule of law in Indiana, and I see that can continue. When I look around the country, I am very, very proud of our court and continuing its traditions. We’re strong. We’re strong collectively together.”

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Judge: U.S. Courthouse in Chicago Was on Brink of Halting Trials

Judge Castillo

Judge Castillo

Recalling the federal government’s shutdown over a budget impasse last year, U.S. District Chief Judge Ruben Castillo of the Northern District of Illinois said he had to draft a doomsday email about suspending all trials at Chicago’s downtown courthouse and find ways to boost sunken staff morale.

“If the shutdown hadn’t ended exactly when it did, we were out of money,” he told The Chicago Tribune in an interview about his first year in office. The draft email did not take effect.

Judge Castillo also discussed new initiatives that helped the district weather the crisis. They included new technology to help accelerate the pace of trials and competing with other districts to attract more attorneys to bring their large civil cases in Illinois. Read more

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CA Court Nomination Makes ‘Statement to the Rest of the Nation’

CASupremeCourtGov. Jerry Brown’s nomination of Stanford law professor Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, a Mexican immigrant to the United States, to the California Supreme Court is sparking attention for the statement it makes about diversity.

The nomination represents “a statement to the rest of the nation as we go through this backlash against immigrants,” said Laurie Levenson, a law professor at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles, according to a San Francisco Chronicle article. 

California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg described the nomination as “a timely reminder that our Golden State was forged by disparate immigrant communities who pushed frontiers and who, together, recognized a common strength in diversity.” Read more

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Governor Nominates Law Professor Cuéllar for CA High Court

Cuéllar

Cuéllar

Gov. Jerry Brown has nominated Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, a Stanford law professor and Mexican-born immigrant to the United States, to the California Supreme Court.

Cuéllar has served under Presidents Obama and Clinton and has an undergraduate degree from Harvard College and advanced degrees from Yale Law School and Stanford, according to the Los Angeles Times. If confirmed, Cuéllar would be the only Latino serving on the state’s highest court, NBC News reported.

In commending Brown’s choice, the  National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) said, “It is vital that the state’s highest court reflect the full diversity of its residents.” Read more

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