Study: Indiana judiciary doesn’t reflect state’s diversity

Indiana is one of 26 states to receive a failing grade on the diversity of its judiciary in a new study released Wednesday by the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy.

The report, titled “The Gavel Gap: Who Sits in Judgment on State Courts?” was authored by law professors Tracey E. George from Vanderbilt University Law School and Albert H. Yoon from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. They looked at biographical information of judges in 51 jurisdictions across the country and compared the percentage of women and minorities on each state’s bench to that of the state’s general population. States were then graded on how closely the benches reflected the general population’s diversity, with states closest to that receiving an “A.”

Indiana was one of 26 states to receive an “F,” as on average Indiana’s judiciaries are 48 percent less diverse than the state population, based on biographical data as of December 2014. Nationally, white men made up 58 percent of state judiciaries and 30 percent of the population; white women made up 22 percent of state court judges, but are 31 percent of the nation’s population. Twelve percent of state court judges were men of color as compared to 19 percent of the nation’s population; women of color were 8 percent of state court judges, but were 19 percent of the nation’s population.

In Indiana, 68 percent of the state’s judiciary were white males, 20 percent were white women, 11 were percent men of color and 1 percent were women of color, ranking it 33rd nationally, according to the study. Indiana’s overall population is 39 percent white males, 41 percent white women, 10 percent men of color and 10 percent women of color.

The report’s methodology notes that their figures are estimates compiled based on data collected from secondary sources.

Indiana was 40th in gender representativeness rank of state courts, as 51 percent of Indiana’s population were women but only 21 percent of Indiana’s judiciary were women. Indiana was 20th in estimated race and ethnicity representativeness, as 12 percent of Indiana’s judges are minorities compared with 20 percent of its population.

Hawaii was the only state to receive an A in the study. District of Columbia was the only jurisdiction to receive a B. 

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