STATE AND FEDERAL COURT TASK FORCES ON GENDER BIAS IN THE COURTS

“The Task Force has concluded that gender bias against women litigants, attorneys and court employees is a pervasive problem with grave consequences. Women are often denied equal justice, equal treatment and equal opportunity.” (link)

-Report of the New York Task Force on Women in the Courts 

  • NJEP’s judicial education programs inspired a series of task forces established by state chief justices and federal circuit councils to examine gender bias in their own court systems. The task forces documented discriminatory court decision, policies, and practices, and recommended reforms to eradicate these barriers to equal justice. Over the decade from 1982-1992, NJEP provided technical assistance to more than 40 state task forces in all phases of their work as investigating bodies, implementation committees and standing committees of the courts.
  • At its 1988 annual meeting, the Conference of Chief Justices adopted a resolution urging every Chief Justice to establish a task force “Devoted to the study of gender bias in the courts.” In 1999, the National Conference on Public Trust and Confidence in the Justice System, attended by teams from every state that included the chief justice, state court administrator and state bar president, voted to make implementing the recommendations of the task forces on gender, race, and ethnic bias in the courts a priority.
  • The findings of the forty-one task force reports are summed up in the quotation from the Report of the New York Task Force on Women in the Courts: “The Task Force has concluded that gender bias against women litigants, attorneys and court employees is a pervasive problem with grave consequences. Women are often denied equal justice, equal treatment and equal opportunity.” (link)
  • The reports of these task forces have been cited in more than one hundred state and federal judicial opinions in cases ranging from divorce to rape to murder. These include cases reversing judicial decisions because of overt gender bias and sanctioning attorneys for gender-biased conduct.
  • NJEP offers several publications describing how to establish and operate a gender bias task force, implement its recommendations, and evaluate its impact:
    • Operating a Task Force on Gender Bias in the Court: A Manual for Action (1986)
    • Planning for Evaluation: Guidelines for Task Forces on Gender Bias in the Courts (1989)
    • Learning from the New Jersey Task Force on Women in the Courts: Evaluation, Recommendations and Implications for Other States (1991)
    • Implementation Resources Directory (1988)
    • Gender Fairness in the Courts: Action in the New Millennium (2001)