The Florida Bar

Florida Bar News

Minority bars band together to promote judicial diversity

Regular News

Minority bars band together to promote judicial diversity

The Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr., Bar Association, Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association, Caribbean Bar Association, Haitian Lawyers Association, T.J. Reddick Bar Association, and F. Malcolm Cunningham, Sr., Bar Association are launching a joint committee focused on increasing diversity in the judiciary.

The 2014 Report of the Special Task Force to Study Enhancement of Diversity in the Judiciary and on the Judicial Nominating Commissions, convened by former Florida Bar President Eugene Pettis, found that “blacks and Hispanics tend to have less confidence in the courts than whites.. . . [T]he lack of diversity among judges undoubtedly serves as a major contributing factor.”

A joint press release from the orgnizations said: “The importance of a diverse bench is especially critical in the wake of several high-profile police incidents in South Florida and across the nation, including the alarming findings of the Miami Beach and the Ft. Lauderdale police departments of racially insensitive communications among officers who are charged with serving, protecting, and enforcing the law.”

Moreover, the groups say, the statistics warrant change.

“Miami-Dade is one of the most diverse counties in the state of Florida. Yet there are no black women who serve on the circuit court bench for the 11th Judicial Circuit in and for Miami-Dade County and only two black women who serve the Miami-Dade county bench,” the press release said. “Of the 123 judges who serve Miami’s circuit and county benches, only 10 (8 percent) are black, while over 500,000 (19 percent) of Miami-Dade’s overall population consists of individuals who identify as black or African-American. In Broward County, the most diverse county in the state, of the 90 judges in circuit and county courts, only 6 (7 percent) are black. In Palm Beach County, of the 54 judges in circuit and county courts, 5 (9 percent) are black.”

The initiative will focus on four critical areas in order to foster diversity in the judiciary and increase the number of black judges in the state:

* Research of key facts and statistics related to diversity on the bench;

* Recruitment of potential diverse, talented candidates for the judiciary;

* Development of potential candidates through various support features; and

* Effective advocacy on behalf of diversity.

News in Photos