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California Judges: The Demographic Verdict

| February 28, 2011
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Under state law, the California courts are required to “collect and release aggregate demographic data relative to the race, ethnicity, and gender of California state court justices and judges … on or before March 1 of each year.” This year’s report (22-page PDF) is out today. Not surprisingly, it shows the state bench looks markedly different from the state as a whole. Following is the top line breakdown by race/ethnicity the state’s 1,699 judges—the count includes the Supreme Court, state Courts of Appeal, and Superior Court judges in the 58 counties. For fun and (perhaps) perspective, we’ve compared the bench statistics with numbers on the state’s prison population and its population as a whole. (All figures are percentages.)

Ethnicity/race Judges Prisoners State population
White 72.3 25.6 40.8
Latino/Hispanic 8.2 39.3 37.2
African American 5.6 29.0 5.9
Asian 5.4 12.4
Native American 0.4 NA 0.6
Pacific Islander 0.2 NA 0.4
Other 0.9 6.1 NA
Multiracial 3.5 NA 2.8
Male 69.2 93.6 50.1
Female 30.8 6.4 49.9

(All figures are percentages.)

Sources:
Judges: 2011 Demographic Data Reports (22-page PDF)
Prisons: California Prisons and Parolees, 2009 (132-page PDF)
Population: California Department of Finance: California County Race / Ethnic Population Estimates and Components of Change by Year, July 1, 2000–2008 (60-page Excel spreadsheet); U.S. Census Burea, California Quick Facts (for state gender population only).

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About the Author ()

Dan Brekke has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at dbrekke@kqed.org.

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