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Wisconsin judges call for more diversity in legal profession

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — More than two dozen Wisconsin appellate court judges, including two sitting justices on the state Supreme Court, called Friday for combating racism and increasing diversity in the legal profession.

The open letter follows similar pleas by state Supreme Court justices and appellate court judges in other states in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police and the protests that followed calling for law enforcement reforms and racial justice.

“The anger and grief resonating across our country compel us to recognize that we must be part of the conversation as Americans confront the truth about these injustices and their long history in American culture,” the Wisconsin judges wrote.

The judges said they recognized ongoing injustices in the legal system and systematic barriers that prevent justice. They called for acknowledging implicit biases and prejudices and seeing how they affect office and courtroom interactions.

They said through mentor programs and recruitment efforts, more work needs to be done to diversity the legal profession, particularly people who serve as judges.

Those who signed the letter include Supreme Court justices Ann Walsh Bradley and Rebecca Dallet; incoming Justice Jill Karofsky; former Supreme Court justices Louis Butler and Janine Geske; nine of the 16 current state appeals court judges and 14 retired appeals court judges.

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