California Bench Continues to Grow More Diverse
SAN FRANCISCO—Diversity on the California bench is increasing, according to a legislatively mandated annual report released today by the California Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). The report contains demographic data on the ethnicity, race, gender, and sexual orientation of California state justices and judges on the bench as of December 31, 2013.
Government Code section 12011.5(n) requires the AOC to collect and release aggregate demographic data on California state judges and justices by March 1 every year. This is the eighth year that the information has been collected and released. Responding to the questionnaire is entirely voluntary for judges.
According to the report, women now represent 32.2 percent of superior court judges, compared to 27.1 percent in 2006, continuing an upward trend over the past eight years.
The data also show changes over the past eight 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 2013 compared to 0.1 percent in 2006);
- Asian (5.9 percent in 2013 compared to 4.4 percent in 2006);
- Black or African American (6.2 percent in 2013 compared to 4.4 percent in 2006)
- Hispanic or Latino (9.1 percent in 2013 compared to 6.3 percent in 2006);
- Pacific Islander (0.2 percent in 2013 compared to 0.1 percent in 2006);
- White (70.6 percent in 2013 compared to 70.1 percent in 2006);
- Some Other Race (1.1 percent in 2013 compared to 0.2 percent in 2006);
- More Than One Race (3.6 percent in 2013 compared to 4.4 percent in 2006); and
- Information Not Provided (2.9 percent in 2013 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 trial court judges who voluntarily provided race/ethnicity information.
This is the third year that the study includes data on gender identity and sexual orientation, as required by a law passed in 2011. Sixty-three percent of respondents provided information about gender identity/sexual orientation, reporting the following:
- Heterosexual, 60.4 percent;
- Lesbian, 1.2 percent;
- Gay, 1.2 percent;
- Bisexual, 0 percent; and
- Transgender, 0.06 percent; and
- Information not provided, 37.2 percent.
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 of California.