Minority and Justice Commission
Ms. Contreras, Mr. Tsuchida and Ms. Chung discussed potential themes of the Equal Justice newsletter that would be timely and interesting. Some of the themes proposed were racial profiling, census, and diversity in staff. However, it was discussed that we need to approach these issues for inclusion in the newsletter with a positive spin. Group discussed inclusion of Ms. Sheryl Willert's project: recruitment and detention cookbook, in the newsletter.
The purpose of the newsletter should be to generate awareness, to educate and to inform. It would be more useful if it contained fewer profiles and more discussion of issues, as well as presenting issues in a non-accusatory manner.
Another idea for the newsletter was law school admission since the passage of I-200. Thought was to get the assistance and participation of deans of law schools to submit reports or information on its impact and efforts to increase diversity in the law schools. Make suggestions to further help, since the system is still not up to par. What is I-200's effect on Washington State? I-200 is a broad sweep concerning education, employment, and contracting in the public sector. How much focus should be put on that?
Could we use census results? Illustrate how and why those statistics are important to our topics. The newspapers have already outlined the census results. Where it could prove important is the reflection of immigration populations and the need for interpretive services.
Domestic violence issues could be mentioned. Some women of color are uncomfortable with coming forward with reports of domestic violence. This could be a whole new topic for another time. This topic would require a lot of analysis and the need for expert resources.
In the interest of time, it was decided that the theme for the newsletter should be "Diversity in the Courts: Issues, Programs, and Advances". The information for the newsletter could be gathered from the individual counties. What are their current diversity efforts? What results have their efforts produced? The perception of bias seems to be very convoluted. The slightest bit of criticism causes uproar and animosity in the court system. No one wants to be accused of bias.
A positive presentation could focus on the great efforts in diversity each court has taken. Use statistics in a positive way. Emphasize that diversity is important. Propose ways to attract new staff. Have an underlying message as to the reason for diversity.
It was decided that Erica Chung would contact OAC staff and investigate whether or not OAC has an internal record of diversity programs in various court districts. Erica Chung will also verify if any court buildings have been named after a person. Recently, the King County Council Building was renamed to the Martin Luther King courthouse. This could be an example to investigate in the court system, state and federal, of how the court system is recognizing important people in minority community. Also, the posthumous admission of the Japanese to the bar is another concrete example.
Brian Tsuchida volunteered to contact Madeline Botta, Kitsap County Administrator, on diversity programs. The information gathered could be used to reinforce the message for diversity training and the statistical data would be valuable as supportive evidence. Brian Tsuchida will also contact Judges Benton and Martinez, who are two minority judges that could offer some good insight.
Another suggestion for the newsletter is to have a regular column that recognizes "unsung heroes" showing off the efforts of a regular court staff, not necessarily judges. It could also recognize a community or community members' effort outside of their jobs. Each county could be approached to submit a small blurb, no longer than two or three paragraphs, and a photo of each "unsung hero".
It was decided that the newsletter should be no longer than 14-15 pages. Also, a table of contents would help readers to find features easily. There should be a little blurb on each subcommittee and a section on future activities or vision. The subcommittee list should be condensed, with a comment to refer to the website for further information.
Teleconference, Tuesday, April 10, 4:00 p.m. and need to schedule a full sub-committee meeting in the very near future.
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