California Bench Continues to Grow More Diverse

for release

Contact: Blaine Corren, 415-865-7740

March 4, 2015

California Bench Continues to Grow More Diverse Annual Survey Indicates


SAN FRANCISCO—Diversity on the California bench is increasing, 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 veteran’s and disability status of California state justices and judges on the bench as of December 31, 2014.

Government Code section 12011.5(n) requires the Judicial Council to collect and release aggregate demographic data on California state justices and judges by March 1 every year. This is the ninth year that the information has been collected and released. Responding to the questionnaire is entirely voluntary for judges.

Gender
The data show a trend toward an increasing percentage of female trial court judges in 2014. Women now represent 32.2 percent of superior court judges, compared to 26.8 percent in 2006, continuing a steady upward trend over the past nine years.

Race and Ethnicity
The data also show changes over the past nine 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 2014 compared to 0.1 percent in 2006);
  • Asian (6.0 percent in 2014 compared to 4.4 percent in 2006);
  • Black or African American (6.5 percent in 2014 compared to 4.4 percent in 2006);
  • Hispanic or Latino (9.4 percent in 2014 compared to 6.3 percent in 2006);
  • Pacific Islander (0.2 percent in 2014 compared to 0.1 percent in 2006);
  • White (69.9 percent in 2014 compared to 70.1 percent in 2006);
  • Some Other Race (1.1 percent in 2014 compared to 0.2 percent in 2006);
  • More Than One Race (3.5 percent in 2014 compared to 4.4 percent in 2006); and 
  • Information Not Provided (2.8 percent in 2014 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.

Gender Identity/Sexual Orientation
This is the fourth year that the study includes data on gender identity and sexual orientation, as required by a law passed in 2011. Sixty-five percent of respondents provided information about gender identity/sexual orientation, reporting the following:

  • Heterosexual, 62.4 percent;
  • Lesbian, 1.3 percent;
  • Gay, 1.1 percent;
  • Bisexual, 0 percent;
  • Transgender, 0.1 percent; and
  • Information not provided, 35.2 percent.

Veteran’s and Disability Status
In addition, this is the first 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, 2014. Of the 60 trial court judges responding to the question about their veteran’s status, 5 respondents (12%) indicated they have served in the military. Of the 63 judges responding to the question concerning their disability status, 2 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 Governor Brown’s website for demographic information on judicial appointments.

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© 2017 Judicial Council of California