SUPPORTING CREATION OF A RACIAL AND GENDER FAIRNESS ADVISORY COMMITTEE FOR THE FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, the Philadelphia Municipal Court and the Philadelphia Traffic Court comprise Pennsylvania's First Judicial District;

WHEREAS, Court Administrators in the First Judicial District have enjoyed a productive, cooperative relationship with the Philadelphia Bar Association over the years;

WHEREAS, numerous studies in other jurisdictions and anecdotal evidence here in Philadelphia suggest that the First Judicial District as a system is not immune from the injustices which necessarily stem from the effects of racial and gender prejudices and stereotypes;

WHEREAS, the effects of racial and gender prejudices and stereotypes cannot be overcome, even by persons of good will, without a strategic plan to address the causes of such prejudices and stereotypes, as well as the ways those stereotypes and prejudices unfairly impact litigants, lawyers, judges, and court personnel within the court system;

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association's task forces on Racial Fairness in the Courts and on Gender Fairness in the Justice System have worked cooperatively with court administration to address problems stemming from the effects of racial and gender prejudices and stereotypes;

WHEREAS, both the Task Force on Racial Fairness in the Courts and the Task Force on Gender Fairness in the Justice System have concluded that one way to begin addressing problems of gender and racial fairness is the creation of a joint bench-bar Advisory Committee on Racial and Gender Fairness in the First Judicial District;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Governors of the Philadelphia Bar Association believes that issues of racial and gender fairness in our courts are among the most serious facing our courts;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board of Governors supports and recommends the creation of a joint bench-bar Advisory Committee on Racial and Gender Fairness in the First Judicial District (Advisory Committee) as described in the attached proposal, the purpose of which will be to

a. serve the Board of Judges in an advisory capacity;

b. to assist the Board in maintaining the highest standards of racial and gender fairness in the First Judicial District;

c. to review racial or gender bias issues that may impact the courts or the court system, and to establish appropriate procedures for addressing these issues;

d. to recommend procedural and substantive changes where appropriate;

e. to recommend proactive, positive processes such as education, individual counseling, or changes in rules or procedures;

f. to act as a repository of information on racial and gender fairness issues; and,

g. to undertake such other activities as the Board of Judges may direct;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Advisory Committee should be composed of individuals selected in accordance with the attached proposal, each of which should be knowledgeable about racial and gender fairness issues;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Chancellor is hereby directed to use all appropriate means to encourage and assist the Administrative Governing Board in creating the Advisory Committee, and to support the work of the Advisory Committee, once created, going forward.

PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: May 29, 1997