Peter Lynch, a member of Cozen O'Connor's Subrogation & Recovery department and U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, discussed California’s legal community efforts in seeking greater judicial diversity among LGBT, disabled, and veteran personnel. Lynch was involved in efforts to secure support for Assembly Bill 1005, that requires data on disabled and veterans to be included in the annual demographic information. AB 1005 was signed into law in 2013 by Gov. Jerry Brown as part of an effort to combat possible bias among veteran and disabled groups. After the passing of the bill, Lynch explained "it's convenient when people can have sound bites and say we passed this bill to ensure these groups receive a fair shake and a place at the table, but if that is not reflected by the appointments, it needs to be addressed...we want actual results”.
Lynch is a veteran who served with the United States Marine Corps in Afghanistan and Iraq. He confessed the initial results of judicial data on the disabled and veterans collected for the first time in 2014 was discouraging. Of the 10 applicants for judgeships who identified as veterans among a total of 229, none were appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown. Lynch stated “at the least, more of the applicants who are veterans or have disabilities need to be advanced to the stage of the appointment process where they are considered by the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation”. The panel, also known as JNE Commission, is a state bar agency that provides confidential feedback to the governor about potential judicial appointments.
In terms of the representation of the LGBT community among judges, the California LGBT Bar Coalition reported that they are far from equally represented in state and federal courts. The coalition reported that “there has never been an openly gay justice of the California Supreme Court. 45 of California’s 58 counties do not have LGBT judges. Barbara Cox, vice dean at California Western School of Law stated one reason for the lack of LGBT judges could be the efforts to expand judicial diversity is often solely focused on the appointment of people of color and women. She went on to explain another contributing factor to the lack of LGBT judges may be judges who kept their homosexual orientation hidden “to ascend the legal ranks”. Demographic data regarding the sexual orientation of applicants was first tracked in California in 2012. From 2012 to 2014, there were 54 who identified as LGBT and 10 were appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
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