Court system lacks diversity in Tennessee

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – A new report says Tennessee’s court system is not diverse enough.

It ranks the state 45th out of 51 jurisdictions when it comes to gender and racial diversity.

But some local attorneys say that is not an issue when it comes to fair rulings.

Christie Sell got elected to Hamilton County General Sessions Court back in 2006.

But according to a new report, she’s in the minority when it comes to women Judges in Tennessee.

Judge Sell has her own ideas on why there aren’t more women on the bench in Tennessee.

“I do know that for a fact that running for office is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I’m a Mother, so that says a lot. So, I think that it is a difficult thing to do. When you look at politics in our country as a whole, very few women are in political positions.”

The report says Tennessee needs to do a better job of representing the states population when it comes to the court system.

The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy says 36 percent of the population in Tennessee are white males, but white males make up 74 percent of the Judges in the state.

It also says 51 percent of the population in Tennessee are women, but they make up only 20 percent of the Judges.

Robin Flores has been practicing law in the area for years.

“If we’re working on just gender diversity, we’ve got it. We’ve got Christie Sell, we’ve got Pam Fleenor, we’ve got Lila Statom, we’ve got Marie Williams. Alright, I think there’s a good balance there.”

Flores says sometimes his clients in domestic cases will be concerned about Judges, but it doesn’t affect the outcome.

When Jerry Summers started practicing law 50 years ago, there weren’t any women or minority Judges.

But he thinks the state is getting better about that now.

“You have to go to law school, you have to show your, you get a job, you have to be qualified. And I think that things are changing. The fact that you’ve got some statistical numbers to me I think may overstate the issue.”

The report also says minorities make up 26 percent of the state’s population, but only 9 percent of Judges are minorities.

Categories: Hamilton County, Local News

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