Is there any real order in the court?

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Bias in the courtroom was brought to attention in an issue of The Boston Globe. A report by two psychologist published last week concluded that Massachusetts Lawyers, who anonymously rate judges are biased against those of color. The research, conducted over a span of ten years, found that lawyers have repeatedly scored African-American judges lower than White judges. As a result, judges who receive lower scores must attend mandatory mentoring classes, due to the assumption that they lack core competency. In one published report, a researcher stated,


“With regard to racial bias, results showed that Caucasian judges scored significantly higher on all [judicial performance] survey items compared to minority judges, and the magnitude of those differences was meaningful.”

Not only did these researchers review questionnaires from over nearly a decade ago, they held focus groups with lawyers and judges to get a better understanding of the racial drift in the courtroom. After one of these focus groups, researchers concluded,

“The general theme that emerged was the idea that persons of color do not match the expectations of what a judge should look like, and therefore confront more doubt, mistrust, and interpersonal tensions than do non-minority judges.”

With the same results from these questionnaires every year, African-American judges are now under pressure to manage their courtrooms in a different way because they are being held to a different standard than white judges.

After the article was published, a commission was founded to investigate the matter regarding these questionnaires so they can be revised for fairness and efficiency.

Input will be monitored next year when the judges are to be evaluated again.