Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
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Secretary Johnson’s Independent Review of New York Court System Yields Recommendations for Advancing Equal Justice
October 15, 2020
On June 9, litigation partner Jeh Johnson was appointed Special Advisor on Equal Justice in the Courts by Chief Judge Janet DiFiore to review equal justice and racial bias in the New York State court system, the largest and most complex in the country. The final report, delivered on October 1 and released October 15, was covered extensively, including by The New York Times and legal media.
The independent review found instances of juror bias, a judiciary disproportionately more white than the state’s general population, a culture of “toxicity and unprofessionalism” among court officer ranks, and a fear of reporting bias, among many other findings. The report recommends numerous changes in the court system’s policies, practices and programs to help the court system advance diversity and inclusion and ensure equal justice under the law. In response, Chief Judge DiFiore reports that all of the recommendations will be accepted and implemented.
To conduct the review, Secretary Johnson was supported by 10 Paul, Weiss counsel and associates, 3 summer associates and 2 paralegals. The group conducted 96 interviews of 289 individuals, including court clerks, court watchers, court officers, court attorneys and administrative personnel, private civil and criminal practitioners, institutional and public defenders and prosecutors, and engaged numerous bar associations, judicial associations, court employee unions, court reform organizations and affinity groups.