Kudos to our new Florida Bar President Eugene Pettis, who has decided to make this a focus of his Presidency:
The Florida Bar Association says there are only 26 blacks and 58 Hispanics among the state’s 594 circuit court judges. Of the 319 county court judges, only 32 are blacks and 26 are Hispanics. Also, only six blacks are currently among the 61 judges on the five district courts of appeal, along with only two Hispanics.I'm genuinely surprised by these numbers.
Such statistics have led Eugene Pettis, the Florida Bar’s first black leader, to establish the President’s Task Force to Study the Enhancement of Diversity on the Bench and Judicial Nominating Commissions.
The task force has met a few times and will hold another session at month-end, aiming to hand in its report in late May, the panel’s chairman, Frank P. Scruggs II, said.
Scruggs, a Fort Lauderdale resident and partner in the law firm Berger Singerman, is a widely respected attorney who headed a landmark study in 1990-92 for the State Supreme Court on racial and ethnic bias in the judicial system. The commission’s work produced legislation dealing with matters such as the judicial code of conduct, as well as juvenile justice.
Some critics have linked the lack of racial diversity among judges in part to the very small number of minorities on the Judicial Nominating Commissions (JNC) which recommends candidates for judgeships to the governor when new seats are created or there is a vacancy.
The governor appoints five members of each JNC and picks four members from nominees submitted by the Bar; the appointments are for four years.
The Florida Bar News, which reported the statistics, said the number of blacks on those commissions has dropped from nearly 25 percent to four percent and to less than 10 percent for Hispanics.
“I am hopeful that this group will additionally focus on some solutions to these concerning trends so that the Bar and the Governor’s Office may use them to facilitate and accomplish our common goal of making sure our judiciary is reflective of our community,” Pettis said in making the announcement.
What do you all think of this?
Seems to me if you take out Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County the disparities would be even more acute.