Specialty Bar Associations: Arash Jahanian

LAW WEEK: What are your thoughts on diversity on the bench?

JAHANIAN: Certainly it’s something that can and should be improved, and something that the LGBT bar together with the other diversity bar associations as well as the judiciary itself has been working on a lot. We all got together a couple years ago and we talked about ‘How do we address this issue?’ We realized the finalists weren’t necessarily the most diverse in terms of who to endorse to go to the governor’s desk. [We asked]: who is applying, and who is being nominated? In terms of who is applying, that’s on us, that’s on the bar associations to encourage our membership to apply, and each of us within the community to make sure qualified candidates who we know and who we think will bring needed diversity to the bench are applying and are not ruling themselves out to begin with. So then it turns to the nominating commission, and we looked at the process and we determined one thing that might be helpful is to incorporate some implicit bias training into their materials. We went back and looked, and actually found that in the binder they get, they actually get this video that includes some great language on bias. I think it was Justice Mullarkey largely who was on this video talking about it, saying things you think the commissioners should hear: When you think about a judge and what a judge should look like, do you have certain preconceptions to cut to the chase. Are you picturing an older white male? And is that what’s best for our community? But it needed some updating. We have worked together, and Justice Marquez has actually been fantastic in driving these efforts and really taking the lead on re-recording the video with an updated cast. She was instrumental in pushing this movement forward, with the support of Chief Justice Rice and Justice Hood as well.

An organization that has been pretty involved with this as well has been the Center for Legal Inclusiveness. I don’t think I need to articulate the reasons for why it’s important but it’s something that we definitely need to keeping working on and are working on.

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