Deal/Perdue Judicial Appointments by the Numbers – Race and Gender

Written By: Admin

Click on the link  – Judicial Appointments – Deal_Perdue by Race and Gender to see the overview of the judicial appointments by Governors Perdue and Deal by race and gender.

BY THE NUMBERS – GEORGIA’S RECENT GUBERNATORIAL JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS BY RACE/ETHNICITY AND GENDER

-Governor Deal’s Feeder System Apparently only Applies to Minority Lawyers

Racial Analysis

Over the last 13 years under the gubernatorial administrations of Republicans Sonny Perdue and Nathan Deal the appointment of minorities to positions on Georgia’s trial and appellate courts took a backward trajectory from the previous Democratic administrations of Zell Miller and Roy Barnes.[1]  In that period of time, only (2) two minorities have been appointed to the appellate courts out a total of 9 appointments to the Court of Appeals and the Georgia Supreme Court.  Harold Melton (BM) was appointed in 2005 by Gov. Sonny Perdue and Carla Wong McMillian (AF) by Gov. Nathan Deal in 2013.   The percentage of appointments to these two courts (22.22%) is about half of the minority population within the general population but is, however, about on par with the number of minority lawyers practicing in Georgia.

More damning though, during the same period, 2003 – 2015, there were only 3 minorities, 2 African Americans and 1 Hispanic, appointed to Superior Court judgeships out of 73 such appointmentsThere were no minority appointments to the Superior courts by Governor Sonny Perdue during his tenure in office from 2003 to 2010.  He made 41 appointments to the Superior courts but none were minorities.  Governor Deal has made only two African American appointments to the Superior Courts  – Asha Jackson to the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit in 2012, and Verda Colvin to the Macon Judicial Circuit in 2014.   He has also appointed a Hispanic male, Dean C. Bucci, to the Superior Court bench, Paulding Judicial Circuit, in 2015.  While Perdue made zero minority appointments out of 41 appointments to the Superior Court bench, Deal has made a slight improvement at 3 out of 34 appointments for an 8.82% rate for his Superior Court appointments.

 

Gov. Perdue made only four (4) minority appointments to the State Court bench during his 8 years in office.  One African American male, Fred C. Eady was appointed to the State Court of Fulton County in 2005.  Another, Aaron Mason, was appointed in Clayton County in 2010 along with an Asian Female, Carla Wong McMillan, in Fayette County.  He also appointed a Hispanic male, Dax Lopez, to the Dekalb County State Court bench in the same year.  Out of 34 appointments to the state courts in the state, Gov. Perdue appointed 4 minorities for a rate of 11.74%.  Governor Deal has made more minority appointments to the state courts than any other class of court.  Gov. Deal made 4 African American appointments to the Traffic Division of the State Court of Dekalb County in 2015.  These judges will only handle traffic cases.  Gov. Deal made five (5) appointments to the Dekalb State Court in 2015.  A white male and four African Americans.  The white male was appointed to the State Court seat and the four African Americans were appointed to the limited jurisdiction Traffic Court seats. Municipal judges have a broader jurisdictional base than these judges will have on the State Court. Governor Deal had previously appointed 5 other African Americans to the state court bench – Eleanor Ross, Dekalb County, 2011; Michael T. Garrett , Clayton County, 2012; Victoria Darrisaw, Daugherty County, 2012; Eric Richardson, Fulton County, 2013; and, Ben Richardson, Muscogee County, 2014.

By far, the best rate of appointing minorities has been Deal’s appointments of minorities to the state court bench.  He has appointed 9 minorities to the state court bench out of 31 appointments for a rate of 29.03%. According to his appointed co-chair of the Judicial Nominating Commission, Randy Evans, Deal favors a feeder system for appointing judges where lower court judges can move up the chain.  (Daily Report, Alyson Palmer, September 15, 2015).    His penchant for the feeder system apparently only applies, however, to minority lawyers as his recent appointment of 3 white lawyers to the Court of Appeals, wherein 2 of the three had no previous judicial experience and where 3 African American, more qualified, sitting judges were overlooked for the appointments, indicates that factors other than judicial experience and qualifications are at play in his selections.  His feeder system therefore apparently only applies to black lawyers seeking appointments, as the bulk of his minority appointments are at the lowest rung on the judicial ladder while less experienced white lawyers bypass the feeder system and go straight to the top – appellate court appointments.

Gender Analysis

 Governor Perdue only made ten (10) appointments to females out of 79 appointments for 12.65% of his total appointments.  His rate of gender diversity is only marginally better that his rate of racial and ethnic diversity.  6 of the 10 appointments were at the State Court level with 4 females receiving Superior Court appointments.   Governor Deal has made only 17 female appointments out of his 75 appointments in the 5 years that he has been in office.  These appointments are distributed amongst three of the four classes of courts – Court of Appeals (3); Superior Court (6); and, State Court (8).  His 17 female appointments is 23.29% of his 73 appointments which is almost double the rate of his predecessor.

Conclusion

  It has been estimated that 50% of all law school students in Georgia’s five accredited law schools are female and about 16% are racial minorities.  The same source estimates that in 2003, the same year Sonny Perdue started making appointments to the judiciary, one-third of Georgia’s practicing lawyers were female and/or of a minority race or ethnic group.[2]     By these standards, Governors Perdue and Deal have failed miserably in their appointments to the judiciary from the standpoint of having their appointments reflect the diversity in the general population, or the bar itself.  According to an American Bar Association report there were 31,340 lawyers in the State of Georgia in 2015.[3]  If 16% of those lawyers are minorities, then there are 5014 minority lawyers in the state.  For these two governors to only appoint three (3) minority lawyers to the Superior Court bench in 13 years, out of 75 such opportunities, comes close to intentional racial discrimination.  The same applies to their appointments when judged by gender where ten (10) females were appointed out of the 75 appointments (13.33%) at a time when females and minorities make up at least one-third of the lawyer pool.

 

[1]              Governor Roy Barnes appointed 2 minorities to the Georgia Court of Appeals in one year (1999).  Whereas, in 13 years of Republican administrations only one African American has been appointed to an appellate position.  Note: Judicial positions are non-partisan and a judge’s oath is to fairly and impartially apply the law.

[2]              Hunt, James L. “Legal Profession.” New Georgia Encyclopedia. 20 August 2013. (last viewed on 17 December 2015).

[3]              http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/market_research/national-lawyer-population-by-state-2015.authcheckdam.pdf. (last viewed on 17 December 2015).