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Contradictory data

In your April 2007 article decrying the lack of diversity on the State bench, you repeat allegations that the judicial selection process is infected with invidious discrimination against certain racial minorities. In fact, the article is almost entirely devoted to "representatives of Hispanic and black bar associations who blame Schwarzenegger and past governors" for failing to appoint more minorities to the bench.

Amazingly, you ignore the fact that the very data which you claim prompted the piece contradicts such accusations. According to your pie chart, Black and Hispanic lawyers comprise a mere 5.5 percent of the State Bar, but have managed to double their numbers on the bench, where they account for 10.7 percent of sitting jurists. In contrast, it is women, whites, and Asian members of the bar who find themselves underrepresented on the bench.

Why you chose to repeat snipes at the selection process, rather than celebrate the fantastic success of black and Hispanic lawyers in reaching the bench, escapes me. To the extent that there is a race-based "bottleneck" preventing certain minorities from reaching the bench, it would appear to exist somewhere at or prior to bar admission, and not in the judicial selection process. If members of the bar want to see a bench that is demographically proportionate with the American population as a whole, they need to look at barriers to minority membership in the bar, not the bench.

I suspect that they will find entrenched social inequality at the source, not some racist cabal. Given the extent of actual racial inequality, we can't afford to chase phantoms.

Jason de Bretteville
Palo Alto

All about money

Thank you for the story highlighting the deplorable lack of representation of every racial group in the state bar except for whites. The reason the State Bar membership is 84.4 percent white when the state population is only 43.8 percent white is: money.

Whites are more likely to have money to go to schools that are decently funded. They have money for tutors and travel that helps to enrich their learning experiences. They have money to prepare for SATs and LSATs, which increases their chances of getting into law school. And they have money so they don't have to work as much to pay the bills while they are attending both undergraduate universities and law schools. Thus, it is hardly surprising that they are the majority of students in law schools.

Yes, we need preferences to rectify the situation.

Connie de la Vega
San Francisco

Take a deep breath

The phony issue of diversity on the bench needs careful analysis. Black lawyers are 1.7 percent of the potential judgeship pool but they are 4.4 percent of the judges. If one follows the logic of the Diversity Police Force, then blacks are already "over-represented" by 258 percent. Gov. Schwarzenegger's appointments of blacks to the bench is substantially higher than their numbers in the pool would dictate.

Affirmative action is in full bloom at every law school in the country. Has a crime somehow been committed because blacks are not drawn to the legal profession in numbers precisely matching their 6 percent of the general population? Those in our profession who see racism under every rock need to calm down and take some deep breaths.

Paul W. Thomas

Disgusting discipline

It's truly disgusting to see the mild slaps on the wrist meted out to dishonest, incompetent, dare I say malicious attorneys who have so badly damaged their clients, and will continue to do so until disbarred.

Martin Bloom
La Jolla

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