Under state law, the California courts are required to “collect and release aggregate demographic data relative to the race, ethnicity, and gender of California state court justices and judges … on or before March 1 of each year.” This year’s report (22-page PDF) is out today. Not surprisingly, it shows the state bench looks markedly different from the state as a whole. Following is the top line breakdown by race/ethnicity the state’s 1,699 judges—the count includes the Supreme Court, state Courts of Appeal, and Superior Court judges in the 58 counties. For fun and (perhaps) perspective, we’ve compared the bench statistics with numbers on the state’s prison population and its population as a whole. (All figures are percentages.)

Ethnicity/race Judges Prisoners State population
White 72.3 25.6 40.8

8.2 39.3 37.2
African American 5.6 29.0 5.9
Asian 5.4 12.4
Native American 0.4 NA 0.6
Pacific Islander 0.2 NA 0.4
Other 0.9 6.1 NA
Multiracial 3.5 NA 2.8
Male 69.2 93.6 50.1
Female 30.8 6.4 49.9

(All figures are percentages.)

Judges: 2011 Demographic Data Reports (22-page PDF)
Prisons: California Prisons and Parolees, 2009 (132-page PDF)
Population: California Department of Finance: California County Race / Ethnic Population Estimates and Components of Change by Year, July 1, 2000–2008 (60-page Excel spreadsheet); U.S. Census Burea, California Quick Facts (for state gender population only).

California Judges: The Demographic Verdict 1 March,2011Dan Brekke


Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke is a blogger, reporter and editor for KQED News, responsible for online breaking news coverage of topics ranging from California water issues to the Bay Area’s transportation challenges. In a newsroom career that began in Chicago in 1972, Dan has worked as a city and foreign/national editor for The San Francisco Examiner, editor at Wired News, deputy editor at Wired magazine, managing editor at TechTV as well as for several Web startups.

Since joining KQED in 2007, Dan has reported, edited and produced both radio and online features and breaking news pieces. He has shared in two Society of Professional Journalists Norcal Excellence in Journalism awards — for his 2012 reporting on a KQED Science series on water and power in California, and in 2014, for KQED’s comprehensive reporting on the south Napa earthquake.

In addition to his 44 years of on-the-job education, Dan is a lifelong student of history and is still pursuing an undergraduate degree.

Email Dan at: dbrekke@kqed.org

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