California chief justice says judiciary is more diverse

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California’s chief justice on Tuesday praised the racial and gender diversity of judges appointed by former Gov. Jerry Brown and highlighted women in leadership roles in state government.

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye noted that more than half of the roughly 600 judges appointed by Brown are women and 41 percent identify as a race other than white.

“The judiciary now is more representative of the communities we serve in every way,” she said during her annual address to California lawmakers.

She also said the civil rights movement, as evidenced by #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, has more work to do.

Two-thirds of the state bench is made up of white judges, but that percentage has fallen since 2006, according to the Judicial Council. Overall, a little more than a third of the roughly 1,900 judges in the state are women.

Cantil-Sakauye said the judiciary has to ensure that income inequality does not create a two-tiered system of justice; that court fines and fees do not fall on those least able to afford them; and that minor traffic offenses do not overburden the poor. It must also make sure its own workplaces are safe from discrimination and harassment, she said.

Last year, Cantil-Sakauye — the second woman and first Asian American to serve as the state’s chief justice — launched a review of judicial policies on harassment, discrimination and other inappropriate conduct in the workplace.

A task force she created was expected to come back with recommendations in the summer. She said she wants to expand training for judges aimed at overcoming unconscious bias.