Contemporary social attention being paid to racial problems across Texas and the rest of the United States has also made its way to the court system. One of the central problems being discussed is the high number of Black men convicted of crimes and punished more severely than defendants of other races. The primary issue in the media spotlight is the killing of Black Americans by police officers, but the overall change being sought is fundamental. One of those fundamentals now being discussed is the racial imbalance among the ranks of legal system officials.
The system is indeed facing a complicated social problem, and activists are focusing on the fact that over 95% of elected prosecutors within the court system across the national are white. In figures compiled in 2019, only 5% of all attorneys were Black while another 5% were Hispanic. There were no numbers stating how many attorneys of color were criminal defense attorneys as a primary field of law practice.
Also noted in the study was the fact that even fewer judges were people of color with most states having a ratio of less than 2 in 10. The study also shows that 16 states averaged fewer than one person of color in every 10 judge seats, which would mean that some jurisdictions had all white judges in their system. Further numbers indicated that less than 10% of first-year law students in 2018 were people of color.
The findings of this study are assuredly significant, and they might be used in the near future by criminal defense attorneys in Texas as leverage when needing to negotiate plea arrangements or work out case dismissals to protect their client’s rights. It is also a possible scenario that the legal system and American Bar Association will be re-evaluating in the future as well.