Washington Courts: Press Release Detail
Interested in being a judge? New guidebook explains process, hoping to attract diverse candidatesJuly 28, 2011
The Washington State Minority and Justice Commission has released a new guidebook that demystifies the process of becoming a judge in hopes of attracting applicants and candidates from a wide range of backgrounds to the bench.
“Diversifying the Bench Guidebook: How to Become a Judicial Officer,” was developed by the Commission’s Workforce Diversity Committee, co-chaired by King County Superior Court Judge Deborah Fleck and Department of Social and Health Services Special Assistant to the Secretary Bonnie Glenn, who proposed the guide.
It can be difficult for non-judges to learn all of the details about the requirements, selection and campaign processes for becoming a judge, Fleck said. “The Workforce Diversity Committee members wanted to bring all of this information together in one guidebook that could be used by any group as a training and educational tool to help diversify the bench in Washington State,” she said. An important element in ensuring trust and confidence in Washington’s court system, diversity on the bench would mean the public could walk into courtrooms and see the diversity of the community reflected in the judges who oversee their cases, Fleck said.
“Diversifying the Bench” is a practical guidebook which explains jurisdiction, judicial eligibility, terms of office, salaries, campaigning and selection processes (for mid-term replacements) for each court level in Washington, as well as evaluations of judicial applicants by the Governor’s office (also for mid-term judicial replacements), evaluations of judicial candidates by state and local bar associations, and more.
In addition, the guidebook includes a “Judges’ Insight” section which gathers experiences and lessons-learned by many Washington judges on their way to the bench. “We gathered a diverse group of judges from around the state at the new Federal Courthouse in Seattle to engage in a discussion guided by (King County Superior Court) Judge LeRoy McCullough and Bonnie Glenn,” Fleck said. “I wanted to provide in this Guidebook the knowledge, experience and advice that the best judge-mentors would give to attorneys considering a judicial career. The members of the Workforce Diversity Committee hope this section will be particularly helpful.”
The Guidebook can be found online at www.courts.wa.gov by clicking on “Resources, Publications and Reports,” then on “Minority and Justice Commission Publications,” or directly at http://www.courts.wa.gov/committee/pdf/Diversifying%20the%20Bench%20Guidebook.pdf .
“In my view, any information that helps demystify the process and that broadly distributes the information will be helpful to extending the invitation to become a judge,” said King County Superior Court Judge Mary Yu, co-chair of the Minority and Justice Commission. “Because the Commission believes that any institution is enriched when it is diverse, we hope that the guide will help those seeking to diversify the bench across the state.”
The Washington State Minority and Justice Commission was established by the state Supreme Court initially as a task force in 1987. It was designated a Commission by Supreme Court order in 1990 and renewed every five years. The Supreme Court supports the Commission and acknowledges there is a continuing need to identify and eradicate all racial, ethnic, religious and cultural bias from the state court system.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Monto Shan Morton, executive director of the Minority and Justice Commission, (360) 705-5327 or email@example.com; or Lorrie Thompson, Communications Officer, (360) 705-5347, Lorrie.Thompson@courts.wa.gov .
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