Selections from the Brennan Center Fair Courts E-lert May 21, 2010.
Summarized news articles and editorials related to the independence of judges and the courts….:
1. A recent George Mason University study suggests that certain factors such as “support for diversity in the state’s leadership,” the “location of a judgeship,” and the “history of diversity” have a significant impact on the success of efforts aimed at enhancing diversity on the state bench – this, irrespective of the judicial selection mechanisms used in a given state. In a broad survey of state trial court judges of color, the report’s authors observed “that the varying selection mechanisms tend to operate to produce a surprising similarity in the processes, strategies, and experiences of judicial candidates . . . [R]ather than a specific selection mechanism, the judges [interviewed] overwhelmingly point to other factors – such as politics, networking, mentorship, and other resources as determinative of the ability of diverse candidates to become judges.” The American Judicature Society has released another important study on judicial diversity, by Malia Reddick, Michael J. Nelson, and Rachel Paine Caufield. The AJS study explores the relationship between judicial diversity and the institutional, political, and legal environment in which judges are selected. Among other conclusions, the study reported that “Merit selection and pure gubernatorial appointment placed more minorities on high courts than did contested elections, while merit selection placed fewer women on intermediate appellate courts.”