11
March
2020
|
06:04 PM
America/Chicago

Missouri Judiciary releases 2019 Diversity Report

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri judiciary today released a report detailing its first comprehensive study of gender, race and ethnicity, and age of Missouri judiciary employees. Click here for Diversity and Inclusion in the Missouri Judiciary.

“As part of my tenure as chief justice, I am excited for a chance to lead Missouri’s judicial branch toward racial, ethnic and gender equity,” Chief Justice George W. Draper III said. “In 1938, the United States Supreme Court ordered Missouri either to allow Negroes into its law school or to create a suitable alternative. Ten years later – when my father earned his masters in law and was advised of a position on the faculty of Lincoln’s law school in St. Louis (the “suitable alternative” the legislature had created) – there were no women or minorities serving on the state’s judiciary.

“By 1984, when I became a Missouri lawyer, there were 16 white women, four black men and one black woman serving as judges, with none at the appellate level,” Draper continued. “Judicial diversity has improved – now 29 percent of our judges are women, and 9 percent are racial or ethnic minorities.

Looking at our branch as a whole – including judges and non-judges alike – 75 percent are women and 14 percent are racial or ethnic minorities. Data show the racial and ethnic diversity of the judges is consistent with the composition of The Missouri Bar.

“While the data show we have come a long way in 70 years, we can do better,” Draper said. “I am confident the Supreme Court of Missouri’s commission on racial and ethnic fairness will continue to emphasize diversification of the bench and judicial personnel among its important efforts to improve racial and ethnic fairness in the state’s legal system.”

The commission has been studying the diversity of the state’s judicial branch since April 2017, when Missouri partnered with the National Center for State Courts to review diversity of both judicial officers (article V judges and statutory commissioners) and non-judge judicial employees to better understand its own demographics, including gender, race and ethnicity, in comparison with the diversity of the population of the state.

In addition to establishing this important baseline study for improving racial, ethnic and gender equity within Missouri’s judiciary, the commission has brought about other meaningful change. As a result of the commission’s work, the judges and employees in the state judicial branch underwent implicit bias training, and all lawyers and judges now are required to have one hour of “elimination of bias” ethics training among their 15 hours required annually of continuing legal education.

Furthermore, effective in July, ethics rules for attorneys and judges expanded protections against bias, prejudice and harassment.

“The corporate world long ago recognized the need for diversity, inclusion and a real understanding of the racial bias that divides and threatens community, industry, democracy and profit,” Draper told a statewide gathering of lawyers and judges in September when discussing the new rules.

“Implicit bias and racism infect our profession as they do society as a whole. They inhibit our cultural growth and impede the progress of minorities into the profession and onto the bench.”