"Firsts" in High Court Diversity

By Reddick, Malia; Gray, Sara | Judicature, January/February 2011 | Go to article overview

"Firsts" in High Court Diversity


Reddick, Malia, Gray, Sara, Judicature


In 2011, several states are seeing "firsts" with respect to the demographic composition of their high courts. Women are serving as chief justices for the first time in three states. In New Hampshire, Governor John Lynch elevated Linda Dalianis to fill a vacancy in the chief justice position. In Ohio, Associate Justice Maureen O'Connor defeated Chief Justice Eric Brown in a statewide race to win the court's top spot. In Virginia, Justice Cynthia Ki user's colleagues elected her to serve as the state's chief justice.

Three additional states will have jurists of color heading their high courts for the first time in 2011. In California, Governor Schwarzenegger appointed Tani Cantil-Sakauye, a Fillipino-American, to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Chief Justice Ronald George. (Cantil-Sakauye is only the second woman to serve as California's chief justice.) Following his appointment by Governor Deval Patrick, appeals court judge Roderick Ireland became the first black chief justice on the Massachusetts Supremejudicial Court, and Justice Michael Douglas is serving as the first black chief justice of the Nevada Supreme Court.

Demographic firsts are not confined to die top spot on state high courts. In Colorado, Governor Ritter appointed the state's first Latina and first openly gay justice in Monica Marquez. Governor Patrick's appointment of Fernande "Nan" Duffly made her Massachusetts' first Asian-American justice, and Governor Strickland selected Yvette McGee Brown as the first African-American woman to serve on the Ohio Supreme Court. …

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