New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill Wednesday requiring the chief administrator of the courts to compile data on the ethnicity, race, disability, veteran status, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation of state judges within specific jurisdictions and submit an annual report of the findings.
State Senator Brad Hoylman, also the Chairman of the Committee on Judiciary, sponsored the bill, co-sponsored by Luis Sepulveda and Anna Kaplan. The Special Advisor on Equal Justice in the New York State Courts reported that diversity is lacking in all judicial districts. For instance, New York City is 31.7 percent, white, while judges are 58.1 percent white.
In an interview with judges, some expressed that the judicial screening committees that are a part of the appointment process are not diverse and contain “too many ‘Big Law’ types.” However, there was no general consensus on whether the appointment or electoral process is better for diversity. Interviewees expressed pros and cons of both processes.
“Our courts should reflect the diversity of our state, but policymakers lack a complete picture of the demographics of our judiciary,” said Hoylman. He went onto say he is “extraordinarily grateful to Governor Cuomo” for signing the bill.