Number of female judges increases

 by Cynthia Price

Legal News
Though it has done so under several company names, Forster-Long, LLC., has been publishing The American Bench: Judges of the Nation since 1977. The publication gives biographies of all sitting judges in the U.S., derived from the judges themselves and updated annually.
This year, an analysis of changes in the gender composition of the bench inciated that there has been a significant upward move in numbers of female judges and justices in just one year.
In the Federal courts,which includes the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Courts of Appeals, the U.S. District Courts, and the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts, the total number of female judges increased by six, which is only an increase of 1.2%. However, the Courts of Appeals accounted for half of that increase, which since based on a  smaller number of judges, represented a 5.1% increase.
A similar small decrease was seen in male judges.
In the state courts, however, the total number of female judges jumped by 195, a 4.5% increase. These included state final and intermediate appellate courts, general jurisdiction courts, limited and special jurisdiction courts. However, the increase in state supreme courts was the most dramatic, where an increase from 104 to 111 meant a percentage increase of 6.7%. Michigan contributed to that increase, when
Diane Hathaway beat out Cliff Taylor in the popular election.
Michigan does not figure in any of the state-by-state statistics. The states with the largest total number of female judges are California, New York and Florida, all of which also saw an increase from 2008 to 2009. The states with the highest number of female judges as a percentage of total judges are Vermont, Rhode Island, and Hawaii.
On the negative side, the states with the lowest number as a percentage are Wyoming, South Dakota, and Idaho.
The largest increases in female judges were in West Virginia, which increased by 63.2%, Louisiana, up 18.4%, and Arizona, increasing 16.7%. The states with the largest decreases, percentage-wise, were New Hampshire and North Dakota, though each only lost one female judge, and Idaho, which lost two.
Overall, 33 states had increases in the number of female judges, while only the three above plus two others had decreases.
As to why these changes may have taken place, commentator Clara Torrens-Spelliscy of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University goes back years ago to an influx of women into the legal profession who
no longer saw barriers to obtaining a seat on the bench. She feels the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor influenced a generation of females. “Having O’Connor on the Supreme Court sent a huge message to young girls. Having role models at the top of any profession is huge,” she said.
Forster-Long also publishes The American Bar, which
incorporates The Canadian Bar, The Mexican Bar, and the International Bar. The American Bar first came out in  1918. Copies of the publications may be obtained on-line at https://www.americanbar