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Appointment of Black Judges

April 12, 1993

In response to "Judicial L.A.: South Africa Without the Formality," by Charles L. Lindner, Opinion, March 14:

Lindner writes eloquently to point out that the governor's judicial appointments have not appropriately included black judges. I have no disagreement with his concern, or with the reasons why judges should reflect the diversity of our California community.

Two things were left unsaid. First, throughout history it is not unusual for a governor to appoint judges based on certain limited factors. That's why, as long ago as 1066 with the Magna Carta, citizens of the English realm forced King John to sign a promise that jurors, citizens of the area, would decide cases in the courts of law. The jury system has developed since then, and the idea remains the same: to protect the parties in a civil lawsuit or criminal prosecution from the judge whose experience or perspective may be too limited to know community values.

Second, new judges in California now receive extensive training in fairness, in avoiding bias, in an effort to ensure that the limits of a judge's personal experience do not cause the judge's rulings to be unfair. These classes for judges continue to be available throughout a judicial career.

Lindner's concerns are political concerns, for the attention of the governor. We are fortunate to have a judicial education program that is not political, and which teaches judges that they must be responsive to all the people of the community, no matter which governor may have appointed the judge.

G. KEITH WISOT

Judge of the Superior Court

Los Angeles

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