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News about diversity and racial justice in the state courts

'We're not colorblind': Two years after George Floyd, WA Supreme Court tries to chart a different path on race

Seattle Times, June 12, 2022

In the two years since reaffirming its commitment to achieving justice by ending racism, the Washington Supreme Court has made "large and small, symbolic and concrete" efforts to move toward a more just legal system.


New study to engage underserved communities, explore post-pandemic access to justice

National Center for State Courts, May 18, 2022

Through grant funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, NCSC will work directly with community members and stakeholders to identify legal issues that low-income people of color face and how systemic and intersectional disadvantages impact people in their communities following the pandemic.


Justice Lisa Holder White to be first Black woman on Illinois Supreme Court 

Chicago Sun Times, May 10, 2022

Appellate Justice Lisa Holder will become the first Black woman to serve on the state's highest court, succeeding Illinois Supreme Court Justice Rita Garman, who is retiring in July. Justice Holder White was also the first Black judge in both the 6th Judicial Circuit and 4th District Court of Appeals.


State Supreme Courts Are (Slowly) Starting to Look More Like America

Pew Stateline, May 2, 2022

Two months after George Floyd was murdered by police in Minneapolis in May 2020, as protests erupted around the country, the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators adopted a resolution that said structural racism disproportionately affects people of color and erodes public confidence in the fairness of the judicial system.

The resolution led to a 150-member working group of lawyers, judges and officials from legal organizations that is providing guidance for courts, called a Blueprint for Racial Justice.


Maine Senate confirms first Black justice to top state court

Associated Press, April 12, 2022

The Maine Senate has confirmed the appointment of its first Black justice to sit on the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Judge Rick Lawrence is currently the deputy chief judge of the district court. He will fill a seat that will be vacated by Justice Ellen Gorman, who has announced her intent to retire.


NY Judicial Commission, Buffalo’s PBS Station Launch Online Curriculum Resources on Equal Justice

New York State Unified Court System, March 29, 2022

The Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission announced the launch of digital curriculum resources for middle school through high school educators and students to complement its award-winning documentary, “A Bridge to Justice: The Life of Franklin H. Williams,” examining the life of the trailblazing attorney, civil rights leader and Commission’s namesake.


New road map to improve diversity among Delaware lawyers, judges

WHYY.org, February 23, 2022

Nine months after declaring that racial diversity among judges in Delaware “is inadequate,” Supreme Court Chief Justice Collins J. Seitz Jr. released a strategic plan Tuesday to increase the number of Black and Latino members of the Delaware Bar.

The report highlighted several numbers that illustrate the disparities in Delaware.


States With the Most Racially Diverse Supreme Courts

U.S. News & World Report, February 11, 2022

As the country’s nonwhite population grows, only a handful of states – among them California and New York – have Supreme Courts that reflect this diversity.