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New Resource Promotes Diversity in Selecting Federal Magistrate and Bankruptcy Judges

Diversity on the bench is essential to achieving the promise of equal justice, yet state and federal courts do not reflect the diversity of the populations that they serve. Today, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and the American Bar Association Judicial Division released a new resource that provides concrete guidance on how to increase diversity among federal magistrate and bankruptcy judges.

While the federal judiciary overall has become more representative of America, magistrate and bankruptcy courts continue to lag behind. But, federal judges appoint and re-appoint individuals to those benches, so the judiciary itself can address this problem. Building A Diverse Bench: Selecting Federal Magistrate and Bankruptcy Judges analyzes the current state of judicial diversity and its value to the system, and focuses on simple changes that can strengthen the applicant pool and the candidates selected for judgeships.

The manual outlines a set of best practices recommended by an advisory committee of federal circuit court, district court, magistrate, and bankruptcy judges, as well as circuit executives, clerks of court, and other court experts. It includes suggestions for every stage of a court’s selection process, including pipeline-building, recruitment, vetting, deliberations, and voting.

“When litigants enter our courtrooms and see diverse judges and lawyers, their perceptions of our justice system will change,” writes foreword author Hon. Frank J. Bailey, a judge for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts. “Just as important, a judiciary filled with a wide array of perspectives will enrich our understanding of the communities we serve and improve our ability to fulfill the obligations and ideals that we have sworn to uphold.”

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