Pathways to Judicial Diversity
A Judicial Council Initiative to Promote Diversity on the Bench

Collaborate on Programs: Local Court Partnerships

Courts may consider establishing a court diversity committee to initiate programs aimed at increasing the diversity of the pool of judicial candidates in the area. However, a committee is not mandatory to implement the programs outlined in this toolkit. A committee may be a reasonable and efficient option for a group of small courts to share resources and to manage the availability of judges interested in participating in any of the programs.

The presiding judge in collaboration with the court executive officer would determine the committee’s composition, including whether to enlist representatives of local and specialty bar associations to assist with these programs.

Forming an Area Diversity Committee

Another approach to beginning the process would be for interested courts to initiate a meeting with Court Executive Officers and Presiding Judges from neighboring courts to determine the level of interest in initiating diversity programs for attorneys in the area. Alternatively, a proposal to form area committees could be presented at a regional meeting or a meeting of the Trial Court Presiding Judges or the Court Executives Advisory Committees. Area committees might benefit smaller courts, allowing them to pool resources and talent to implement programs and presentations to attorneys. For larger courts, area committees would facilitate implementation of more frequent programs in more locations. These Diversity Committees might comprise court representatives, as well as representatives from justice system stakeholders in the area, such as:

  • A judicial officer from each court in that area and at least one presiding judge from that area;
  • An appellate court justice;
  • A court executive officer or deputy court executive officer from the area;
  • A State Bar representative;
  • An officer from the county bar associations; and
  • An officer from the area’s minority and affinity bar associations.

Committee Strategies and Action Plans

Below are some strategies that courts and judicial officers may find effective in implementing judicial diversity initiatives:

  • Identify and communicate with judges who are knowledgeable about local search committees to discern their evaluation criteria.
  • Plan educational programs, such as the models discussed later in Part Two that are designed to inform attorneys about the judicial application and appointment process.
  • Develop and promote sustainable judicial mentoring programs.
  • Encourage judicial officers to participate in judicial mentoring and local college, high school and middle school pipeline programs.
  • Provide timely announcements of judicial officer vacancies to subordinate judicial officers and all local bar associations, including specialty and affinity bar associations.
  • Recommend to courts that their judges identify SJOs and attorneys who demonstrate potential for judicial excellence, including those from diverse backgrounds, and encourage them to apply for judicial appointments.

Strategies for Courts

Area committees, individual courts, and judges can:

  • Develop methods to increase the diversity of SJOs employed by the courts in each region;
  • Identify replicable best practices that courts can use to attract diverse applicant pools for SJO positions; and
  • Recommend to courts that their judges identify attorneys who demonstrate potential for judicial excellence, including those from diverse backgrounds, and encourage them to apply for commissioner appointments.