League President Mary G. Wilson indicates that, “As of June 2009, 46 out of 265 judges in the state of Kansas were women, and women represented only 16 out of 166 judges at the District Court level. Additionally, there are four African-American, four Latino, one Asian, and no Native-American judges out of 265 throughout the state. We can do better.”
Furthermore, Wilson states that “Communities that lack a diverse judiciary risk a crisis of confidence among their citizens.” Wilson believes that a “lack of diversity creates a perception that the courts may not be as fair or impartial as they could be, and leads citizens to question the role the courts play in their lives.” The League of Women Voters has worked to promote a fair and impartial judiciary for more than eight years and is excited to begin a new phase of this project in Kansas, and help America fulfill its promise to provide equal justice for all.
A copy of the research on the state of judicial diversity in Kansas presented by Professor Jeffrey Jackson of Washburn University is now posted online on the Social Science Research Network. Please review and share these fascinating findings.
As the research highlights, diversity on the bench in Kansas has come a long way, but there is still plenty of work left to be done. While the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals are now much more reflective of the people they serve, many judicial districts are still monolithically white and male. Moreover, the legislature is rife with threats to the current system of selecting judges: recent bills have made the way that Court of Appeals judges are appointed more political and defunded the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission for one year, meaning that there will be no judicial performance evaluations for the 2012 retention elections.
Leagues interested in organizing an additional public education event, to highlight the release of this research or otherwise, are encouraged to apply for the remaining “Quest for a More Diverse Judiciary” funding. Please contact Cynthia Padera via e-amil or on her office line at 202.263.1307 to discuss ideas.
Kansas Judicary Map and Nominating Committees Lists —1/20/2010
Safeguarding U.S. Democracy:
The Quest for a More Diverse Judiciary
The League of Women Voters continues to work to promote the importance of fair and impartial courts nation-wide. During the next two years, 2009-2011, the League will focus on promoting diversity at all levels of the state judiciary to enhance the legitimacy of our system of justice in the eyes of an increasingly diverse public. According to Norman L. Greene's The Judicial Independence Through Fair Appointments Act, 34 Fordham Urb. L.J. 13,25 (2007), the needs to promote a more diverse bench are: 1) it will inspire more confidence in the judiciary, 2) it will be more representative of the broader community, 3) it will promote justice, 4) it will promote equality of opportunity for historically excluded groups, and 5) it will promote judicial impartiality. A continuation of the status quo will “[a]ffect the way citizens look at the role courts play in their communities, it erodes the trust on the courts, questions the right of equal under the law, and courts may not be perceived to be fair and impartial.”
Sponsored by: League of Women Voters of Kansas, Emporia, Great Bend, Johnson County, Lawrence/Douglas County, Manhattan/Riley County, Salina, Topeka, and Wichita
The League of Women Voters of the United States announces the launch of Safeguarding U.S. Democracy: A Quest for a More Diverse Judiciary, a two-year, statewide campaign focusing on the importance of diversity in ensuring fair and impartial courts , starting in the state of Kansas. According to the 2008 report from The Brennan Center, Improving Judicial Diversity, most judiciaries do not reflect the diversity in their states—and Kansas is no exception. In pursuit of this goal and in conjunction with a diverse coalition of partners, Leagues across Kansas will develop and implement strategies for education and advocacy, such as community forums, town hall meetings, events at local law schools, and meetings with appointed and elected officials.
The project kicked off with a public forum on Saturday, October 17, 2009, in Topeka, featuring the Honorable Rebecca Love Kourlis, Executive Director of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. Together with the League of Women Voters of Kansas and eight local Leagues across the state, they will tackle the question: “Does the Kansas Judiciary reflect the diversity of our state? If not, why not?” A preconference reception was held at the Brown vs. the Board of Education Historical site in Topeka. —watch video on youTube
Partially funded by the Transparency and Integrity Fund of the Open Society Institute and the League of Women Voters Education Fund.
A kick-off event has held in Topeka, KS, on October 17, 2009. A public forum featured the Honorable Rebecca Love Kourlis, Executive Director of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System.NOTE: State League members will recognize many familar faces in the slide show, above.
National Center for State Courts: Judicial Salary Resource Center (KANSAS) http://www.ncsconline.org/D_KIS/Salary_Survey/state_inc.asp?STATE=KS
Kansas Judicial Branch : Supreme Court | Court of Appeals | District Courts | Court Structure Chart
So you want to be a judge in Kansas? Here's advice on how to get there. 9/5/2009
The Commission on Judicial Performance was created by the Legislature in 2006 to evaluate all Kansas justices and judges and to publicize the evaluations of the retention election judges and justices. On the Commissions website under the heading “General Information” you will find complete information about the evaluations and the process used in evaluating the judges and justices. Link sent by Randy Hearrell, KSJC http://www.kansasjudicialperformance.org/ Oct. 1, 2010
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