Thursday, May 24, 2012

Groups call for more diversity on Fulton bench.

By Bill Rankin
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

With the number of black Fulton County judges declining, civil rights and legal groups Thursday called on the governor to put more people of color on the bench.

photo David Goldman, AP The Rev. Joseph Lowery speaks during a May 24, 2012, news conference with a coalition of civil rights and attorneys groups saying African-American judges are disappearing from the bench in one of Georgia's most heavily-populated black counties

"This is about ensuring that Fulton County minority judges don't one day become an endangered species," Chris Stewart, president of the Gate City Bar Association, said.

Leaders from several groups stood on the steps of the Fulton courthouse and expressed disappointment that the percentage of African-American judges on the Fulton Superior Court bench has dropped from 44 percent (eight out of 18) in 2002 to 30 percent (six out of 20) this year. During the past decade, every black judge who has either resigned or retired from the court has been replaced with a white appointee, the groups said in a statement.

"We are watching a disappearing number of African-American judges, which is not fair to the citizens of this community," the Rev. Joseph Lowery, representing the Coalition for the Peoples' Agenda, said. "We're here to protest that injustice. ... We don't need in this new century the habits of the old one."

According to Gov. Nathan Deal's website, the governor has made at least 20 appointments to the state trial and appellate court benches since coming into office in January 2011. At least three of his appointees are African-Americans: DeKalb Superior Court Judge Asha Jackson, DeKalb State Court Judge Eleanor Ross and Clayton State Court Michael T. Garrett.

Stephanie Mayfield, a Deal spokeswoman, said the governor put Jackson on the DeKalb bench after being recommended to do so by the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys.

Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said the governor works closely with the members of his Judicial Nominating Commission to find the most qualified candidates for the bench.

"The governor celebrates the diversity of our vibrant state and he’s appointed African-Americans and other minorities to the important positions," Robinson said. "Governor Deal takes into consideration the importance of diversity in his appointments, but his first priority is selecting first-rate jurists."

It is unclear when another vacancy will open up on the Fulton bench. So far, Deal has had two opportunities to fill vacancies left by black judges and he has replaced them with white appointees. Last year, Deal appointed his chief counsel, Todd Markle, to succeed Michael Johnson, who resigned to run for Congress. This year, Deal appointed former federal and county prosecutor Robert McBurney to succeed Marvin Arrington, who retired.


Anonymous said...

People should be judged by the content of their character and not be put on the bench because of skin color. The best person for the job the most qualified the most experienced should get the job. Period.

Can you imagine if a white person asked for more white people to be put on the bench? What would he be labeled by the leftists?

Anonymous said...

This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. This is racist if I ever heard of such a thing! The war ended a long time ago and if you can not figure out how to get an education and a job do not blame it on the color of your skin! Those of you that do are the real racists! People need to have a sense of pride in their accomplishments and hard work instead of trying to make everything the same – or what some may call ‘fair’. What’s fair about someone getting a job not on their abilities, skills and accomplishments but solely on the color of their skin? If you want this socialized ‘fair’ system then move to Europe. See how well that’s working out for them.