Report finds more women judges

July 23, 2012
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Although women make up about half the population of the United States, and there is nearly the same amount of female lawyers and male lawyers in the country, women make up only 27.1 percent of the judges here. But, the good news for those who like diversity on the bench is that number has slightly increased in the last two years.

This is the third year I’ve written about a report from the Center for Women in Government & Civil Society at the University of Albany which shows that while the number is barely inching up, more women are sitting on state and federal benches.

Last year, women made up 26.6 percent of judges in state and federal courts; in 2010, they comprised 26 percent. The percent of women on state benches is higher than in federal court.

“This is both good news and bad news," said Dina Refki, director of CWGCS. "The good news is that there is movement at least at the state level, but the bad news is that the rate of change is so slow and in the case of the federal benches, we are experiencing a set-back. If women are graduating from law schools at the same rate as men and if there is a pool of qualified women who are ready to serve, there is no explanation for the unbalanced representation on the bench."

Indiana’s numbers stayed the same from last year: we have 88 women on the bench – 83 are state judges; 5 serve on the federal bench. Women represent 20 percent of the state’s judges. That puts us in the report’s “Tier 2” where women occupy 20 to 29 percent of seats on federal and state benches.

In fact, the Midwest region’s percentage stayed the same as last year at 24.6 percent. Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin constitute the Midwest for this report.

Again, Montana topped the list with 40.3 percent of their judges being women. But they don’t have any women on the federal bench, a distinction they share with Idaho. Idaho also came in last in overall number of women on the bench – only 11.3 percent.

The report comes just as Gov. Mitch Daniels has the ability to add two women to state court (that’s assuming a woman is a finalist for the Indiana justice vacancy. If there isn’t one, then expect a future blog post from me.) The governor has made five appellate appointments, with two being female – Elaine Brown to the Court of Appeals in 2008 and Martha Wentworth to the Tax Court in 2011.

Do you pay much attention to reports like this, touting the deficient number of female representation on the bench? Why are these types of reports important?


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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.