The following is an open letter to Governor Rell and Connecticut’s legislative leadership to appoint Judges to the Bench that reflect Connecticut’s diverse citizenry.
I am concerned that the latest round of judicial appointments to Connecticut’s Superior Court made by Governor Rell and legislative leaders do not include a single minority nominee. The 2000 census clearly shows that 18.5 percent of our state’s population are of African American and Hispanic heritage. This does not include other ethnic minority groups such as First Americans, the growing Brazilian community, Asian and Pacific Islanders, to name a few.
Over the past ten years since the 2000 census, Connecticut has seen considerable growth in its ethnic minority populations who have become a part of the fabric of our state, contributing to our economy and community life. Our judicial system should similarly grow and be reflective of our diverse citizenry.
In 2007, the Judicial Branch stated in its Implementation of the Strategic Plan (http://www.jud.ct.gov/Committees/pst/Implementation_100208.pdf), prepared by the Public Service and Trust Commission (Opening remarks at first meeting by Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers and Hon. Alexandra D. DiPentima):
DIVERSITY IN THE BRANCH WORKFORCE, Goal II: Changing Demographics: The Judicial Branch will provide a diverse and culturally competent environment that is sensitive to the values and responsive to the needs of all who interact with it.
Strategy II.1: Ensure the workforce of the Judicial Branch reflects the ethnic and cultural diversity of those who interact with the Branch.
Activity: II.1.1: Develop outreach strategies for making information about Branch job opportunities known to minority communities; and coordinating hiring efforts to secure applicants from culturally and ethnically diverse backgrounds.
The plan further states:
“These activities will be accomplished through the creation of a committee that will recommend an action plan for ensuring that as the diversity of Connecticut’s population continues to grow, the efforts made to develop and maintain a diverse and culturally competent workforce that is sensitive to the values and responsive to the needs of all who interact with the Branch will continue.”
No doubt, the Public Service and Trust Commission recognizes the growing diversity of our state and is striving to include this richness of ethnicity in the Judicial Branch by seeking to hire a more diverse workforce. Equal attention to Connecticut’s rich and growing diversity needs to be addressed by the Governor and those legislators charged with the responsibility of nominating and appointing judges to serve in our various courts. Surely, there are prospective judges of diverse backgrounds who can be nominated by the Governor and subsequently appointed by the legislature.
The Black and Latino Caucus of the General Assembly is working hard to address the lack of diversity in Connecticut’s judicial appointees. As a citizen and voter in this great state, I stand firmly behind their efforts on this issue and look forward to seeing a diverse Judicial Bench in Connecticut that reflects the rich ethnicity of our citizens.