New report: Florida 35th in diversity on state courts

New report finds Florida 35th in race and ethnicity representation on state courts

“The Gavel Gap,” a new report released by the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy on Wednesday ranked Florida 35th in race and ethnicity of judges on state courts. The report assigned Florida an overall grade of ‘F’ when comparing the race and gender composition of the courts and the communities they serve. 

Mark Ferrulo, executive director of the Progress Florida Education Institute and a member of the Florida Access to Justice Project, issued the following statement:

“This report is a stark reminder of how urgent it is that we expand the diversity of Florida’s judiciary. When our courts are not reflective of the communities they serve, it negatively impacts the objectivity of our courts and Floridians’ access to fairness and justice.

“Florida’s population is 44 percent people of color, yet fewer than 18 percent of state judges are people of color. Women of color are 23% of the population, but only 9% of the judiciary, and men of color represent 22% of the population but only 9% of the judiciary, according to the report.

“Floridians understand that our courts must reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. Seventy-eight percent of respondents to a Florida Access to Justice Project sponsored Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll felt it was important that ‘judges who serve on the bench in Florida reflect the diversity of Florida.’ 

“This new report also underscores the need for our courts to stay insulated from political and special interests. These influences have an adverse impact on the diversity and objectivity of our courts.”