SAN FRANCISCO—Diversity on the California bench has slowly but steadily increased over the last 10 years, according to a legislatively mandated annual report released today by the Judicial Council. The report contains demographic data on the ethnicity, race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and veterans’ and disability status of California state justices and judges on the bench as of December 31, 2015.
This marks the tenth year the demographic information has been reported, as required by state statute. Responding to the questionnaire is entirely voluntary for judges. On that basis, the report reflects the responses of only those judicial officers that provided demographic data. (Note: The following 2015 statistics were updated on April 14, 2016.)
The data show a trend toward an increasing percentage of female trial court judges in 2015. Women now represent 32.9 percent of superior court judges, compared to 26.8 percent in 2006, continuing a steady upward trend over the past 10 years.
Race and Ethnicity
The data also show changes over the past 10 years in the percentage of justices and judges reported in the following race and ethnicity categories:
- American Indian or Alaska Native (0.5 percent in 2015 compared to 0.1 percent in 2006);
- Asian (6.5 percent in 2015 compared to 4.4 percent in 2006);
- Black or African American (6.6 percent in 2015 compared to 4.4 percent in 2006);
- Hispanic or Latino (9.9 percent in 2015 compared to 6.3 percent in 2006);
- Pacific Islander (0.2 percent in 2015 compared to 0.1 percent in 2006);
- White (69.1 percent in 2015 compared to 70.1 percent in 2006);
- Some Other Race (1.2 percent in 2015 compared to 0.2 percent in 2006);
- More Than One Race (3.4 percent in 2015 compared to 4.4 percent in 2006); and
- Information Not Provided (2.6 percent in 2015 compared to 9.9 percent in 2006).
These changes reflect judicial retirements and other departures from the bench, new judicial appointments, and an increase in the number of judicial officers who voluntarily provided race/ethnicity information.
Gender Identity/Sexual Orientation
This is the fifth year that the study includes data on gender identity and sexual orientation, as required by a law passed in 2011. The 67 percent of respondents who provided information about gender identity/sexual orientation reported the following:
- Heterosexual, 64.3 percent;
- Lesbian, 1.4 percent;
- Gay, 1.3 percent;
- Bisexual, 0 percent;
- Transgender, 0.1 percent; and
- Information not provided, 33.0 percent.
Veteran’s and Disability Status
In addition, this is the second year that the study includes data on veteran’s and disability status, which is required only for justices and judges on the bench on or after January 1, 2015. Of the 155 trial court judges responding to the question about their veteran’s status, 9 respondents (6%) indicated they have served in the military. Of the 159 judges responding to the question concerning their disability status, 4 judges (3%) indicated they have a disability.
Increasing the diversity of California’s judicial officers to reflect the rich diversity of California’s populace continues to be a key goal of the Judicial Council.
Visit the Governor’s website for demographic information on his judicial appointments.