Judges: Diversity needed in Washington court system

Jun 5, 2012
Originally published on June 5, 2012 2:48 pm

The need for a diverse judiciary was the focus of a panel discussion at Washington State University in Pullman Saturday. On hand were judges and justices from around the state, including Judge Cameron Mitchell of the Benton-Franklin Superior Court, who said minority groups don’t always feel like they’re part of the judicial system.

“They don’t see anyone who looks like them that looks like they might have the same type of experiences that they may have had," Judge Mitchell said. "That is a very intimidating situation. And they feel immediately excluded, rather than included, in the process.”

Washington State Supreme Court Justice Steven Gonzalez said that a court that needs to hear civil, family law and criminal cases benefits from having people who have background in those areas.

Panelists said the metaphorical walls dividing the judicial system and minorities are weakening with every vote that is cast in state elections.

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