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Letter to the Editor from 2007 BASF President Nanci Clarence

It's Time for San Francisco Judges to Reflect the Population

To: The Editor
April 17, 2007


For more than 17 years, The Bar Association of San Francisco has led the nation in efforts to diversify the Bay Area legal workforce. That progress places city law firms among national leaders in diversity in the legal profession, including gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and the disabled.

San Francisco law firms and legal organization have made great strides in the effort and realize they cannot meet the needs of San Francisco's population if attorneys reflect a small slice of that population. The same holds true of San Francisco's judges.

In a survey just released by the state Administrative Office of the Courts, they reported aggregate demographic data relative to the gender and ethnicity of California state court justices and judges, by specific jurisdiction. This information, now required annually under Senate Bill 56 (SB 56), is a snapshot of the diversity of California's almost 1,600 judges and justices.

The data shows that San Francisco judges are equally divided between male and female, 25 of each, the most for a California county the size of San Francisco. But the data for ethnic makeup is dismal, 76 percent are white, with Asian judges a very distant second at 12 percent.

SB 56 also created 50 new judgeships this year throughout California, with more in the coming years. This opportunity for a sitting governor to affect the composition of the state's bench is unprecedented.

Just as San Francisco law firms are working to diversify, so must our state and local courts. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger can make a significant impact on the future of San Francisco's courts and our diverse population. The public will not continue to have faith in the integrity of our judicial system if it is operated and run by a narrow slice of the population.

These new appointments present an opportunity that we can't afford to miss.


Nanci Clarence
2007 BASF President

The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) is a nonprofit voluntary membership organization of over 8,000 attorneys, law students and legal professionals in the Bay Area. Founded in 1872, BASF is one of the largest and most dynamic metropolitan bar associations in the U.S., with a long and distinguished record of community action, public service and service to the legal profession.

Questions about media relations, BASF issues currently in the news, San Francisco Attorney magazine, marketing and communications:

Ann Murphy, Director of Communications & Public Relations
(415) 782-9000 x8792

For general communications inquiries:

Sayre Happich, Assistant Director of Communications & Public Relations
(415) 782-9000 x8104