Black judges in Ohio are addressing the need for more diversity in both state and local courts.
They’re coming together to form the Ohio Black Judges Association to be a resource for each other and promote change in the community.
There are only 56 Black judges in Ohio, spread out across just nine of the state’s 88 counties, according to our partners at the Akron Beacon Journal.
“We are overrepresented in the criminal justice arena and we're underrepresented as far as judges and magistrates and prosecutors and police officers. And, you know, we need to do something about that. It's a systemic issue,” Judge Lauren Moore, who serves on the Cleveland Municipal Court, said.
Those numbers inspired Judge Moore and some of her colleagues to join together and turn things around.
In January, they started the Ohio Black Judges Association.
It's a resource for Black judges across the state aimed at continuing legal education for judges and giving them a space where their voices and concerns can be heard.
The group also wants to encourage young people in the Black community to go into the law field and in turn encourage Black lawyers to become judges.
The main goal is to increase diversity in Ohio’s court systems and have a positive impact on the state’s justice system.
“We're talking about being more transparent with cases throughout the with with rulings throughout the entire state. We're looking at just making sure that diversity is not something that we're throwing on the back burner anymore is something that is up front and center,” said Judge Cassandra Collier-Williams, who serves on the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.
“A lot of times we are in situations where the doctors, the teachers, the judges, the police officers, they don't look like us. And so we feel like we can make a difference in terms of relatability, in terms of just having that nuance, in thinking,” Judge Moore said.
The association hopes to get its bylaws ratified by next month.
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