In accordance with legislation introduced and passed last year by Sen. Brad Hoylman, Senate Judiciary Chairman,
the New York State Office of Court Administration recently released a “2020 Self-Reported Statewide Judicial Demographics” report.The report, drawn from self-reported data from New York’s judges, revealed glaring disparities between the demographic composition of the bench and the rest of New York State.
With 78% of judges responding to the survey, the report found:
- Non-white persons in NY State comprise 44.6 of the total population but only represent 18% of its judges
- 2.5% of responding judges identified as AAPI, compared to 9% of the state
- Only 9% of responding judges identified as Hispanic, whereas 19.2% of the state population identifies as Hispanic
- 14% of responding judges identified as Black, compared to 17.6% of NY State’s population.
- In NYC, where the non-white population is 67.9%, non-white judges represented only 27% of judges
- Despite making up 51.4% of the NY State population, women hold only 42% of judgeships in the state
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Additionally, people of color and women are also underrepresented in appointed judgeships. Among respondents that were appointed to their judgeships:
- 47% were women—compared to their 51.4% share of the New York total population
- 66% were white—compared to their 55.4% share of the New York total population
- 11% were Hispanic—compared to their 19.2% share of the New York total population
- 5% were Asian—compared to their 9% share of the New York total population
- 15% were black—compared to their 17.6% share of the New York total population
Senate Judiciary Chair Senator Brad Hoylman said: “Our country and our state are grappling with the consequences of a justice system that – by design – has failed communities of color. We need to explore every option to remedy these historic injustices, and part of that means putting people on the bench who reflect the communities they serve. I am proud to have introduced this law to gather data on who makes up our judiciary – but now it is our job to act on this information.
“Elected officials who appoint judges should look closely at the disparities on our judicial bench – particularly at the disparities in those appointments that he controls. If we want to change the system, we should start by appointing judges who look like our state.”
Subcommittee on Judicial Diversity Chair Senator Zellnor Myrie said: “New Yorkers are entitled to a justice system that reflects the broad diversity of our city and state. A critical step toward building confidence and trust in our judicial system includes elevating New Yorkers of color, women, LGBT candidates and others to the bench who represent the communities they are entrusted to serve. By appointing more diverse judges, New York can begin to dismantle a system that was created in part to enforce racial exclusion, and replace it with one that truly serves our entire state.”
In the judicial system, increased diversity helps ensure impartiality and builds public confidence in the justice system.
Hoylman’s 2020 legislation requires the Office of Court Administration to publish an annual report on judicial diversity, which includes demographic information about the race/ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, and disability status of New York’s judges and justices.
Credit: 1) Judge Tanya Kennedy. 2) New York State Unified Court System