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Newcomb report on Louisiana “gavel gap” set for Oct. 24 release

October 19, 2016


Tulane Law School is hosting the Oct. 24 release of a new study on women and minorities in the Louisiana judiciary. The event is set for 6 p.m. in John Giffen Weinmann Hall’s Wendell H. Gauthier Appellate Moot Court Room 110.

According to the Newcomb College Institute, which is releasing the report, it reveals that the number of women and minority men judges in Louisiana still lags behind their representation in the population.

Professors Sally J. Kenney, a member of Tulane Law’s affiliated faculty, and Salmon Shomade from the University of New Orleans will present the results of the report, followed by a panel discussion featuring Louisiana Supreme Chief Justice Bernette Johnson, U. S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown (L ’88, LLM ’98) and New Orleans Family District Court Judge Bernadette D’Souza (L ’92).   

“Just because Louisiana is uncharacteristically average rather than at the bottom of state rankings is no reason for complacency,” Kenney said. 

“We must draw encouragement from the limited success of women and minority men to spearhead a discussion about greater inclusion in all branches of government. We must develop new strategies for achieving genuine equality rather than mere presence, mobilize to ensure that women and minority men do not stay at the lowest ranks, and carefully monitor changes to ensure we do not reverse the progress we have made.”

Some highlights from the report, “Gender and Racial Diversity of Louisiana Judges”:

Women constitute 51 percent of Louisiana’s population (U.S. census 2015), yet women judges comprised 31.6 percent of all state and federal judges based in Louisiana.

Racial minorities are 36 percent of Louisiana’s population; non-white judges were 22.3 percent of all state and federal-level judges in the state.

In the federal courts based in Louisiana (three U.S. District Courts and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals), women constitute 40 percent of all judges, while racial minorities are 14.3 percent of all judges.

In Louisiana state courts, women judges make up 30.8 percent of all judges, while racial minorities are 23.1 percent of all judges.

Two of seven Louisiana Supreme Court justices are women: one is the chief justice, and the other is retiring at the end of 2016. The chief justice is also the only minority person on the court.

Whereas racial minorities constitute about 66 percent of Orleans Parish, non-white judges make up 85.7 percent of the Orleans Civil District Courts and 66.7 percent of the Orleans Criminal District Court, while women judges are 78.6 percent and 50 percent in these courts, respectively. 

This program is part of a series of events organized by the Commission on Race and Tulane Values and is co-sponsored by Tulane Law School, Africana Studies at Tulane University, League of Women Voters of New Orleans, Louisiana Courts Matter, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center, National Association of Women Judges’ Color of Justice Project and the Newcomb College Institute, which carries on the legacy of Newcomb College by offering a women-centered educational experience within Tulane University.

For more information: Taylor Murrow, Newcomb College Institute, 504-865-5238


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