Judging Judges: A Study of U.S. Federal District Court Judges in the 10th Circuit

30 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2017 Last revised: 29 Nov 2017

See all articles by Eli Wald

Eli Wald

University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Date Written: September 11, 2017


English Abstract: This paper examines the demographics of federal district court judges in the 10th Circuit. Consistent with the glass-ceiling effect literature in positions of power and influence in the legal profession, the study finds that women judges are under-represented on the 10th Circuit bench compared with their numbers as lawyers in the jurisdictions of the Circuit. However, the study finds that minority judges are over-represented in the Circuit. The paper next explores the relationship between under-representation, over-representation and discrimination. Under-representation that cannot be explained in terms of merit criteria or informed opting out, such as the under-representation of women on the 10th Circuit, strongly suggests the lingering effects of past exclusion and discrimination, as well as the current effects of implicit bias. As demonstrated by the over-representation of minority judges, the political commission process can break through the gender glass-ceiling by over-representing qualified women judges in the short run until their overall numbers better reflect equality.

Spanish Abstract: Corroborando la literatura sobre el efecto del techo de cristal, el artículo descubre que las juezas están infrarrepresentadas en el 10º Circuito en comparación con el número de abogadas. Sin embargo, el estudio descubre que los jueces de grupos sociales minoritarios están sobrerrepresentados en el Circuito. A continuación, el artículo explora la relación entre la infrarrepresentación, la sobrerrepresentación y la discriminación. La infrarrepresentación que no puede ser explicada en términos de criterios de mérito o de la renuncia informada, como es el caso de la infrarrepresentación de mujeres en el 10º Circuito, apoya la idea de que persisten los efectos de la discriminación del pasado, así como los efectos actuales de la parcialidad implícita. Como queda demostrado por la sobrerrepresentación de jueces de minorías, el proceso de comisión política puede romper el techo de cristal por razones de sexo, y lo puede hacer mediante la sobrerrepresentación a corto plazo de juezas cualificadas.

Keywords: U.S. Judges, under-representation, over-representation, discrimination, glass-ceiling, implicit bias, merit, Jueces de EEUU, infrarrepresentación, sobrerrepresentación, discriminación, techo de cristal, parcialidad implícita, mérito

Suggested Citation

Wald, Eli, Judging Judges: A Study of U.S. Federal District Court Judges in the 10th Circuit (September 11, 2017). Oñati Socio-Legal Series, Vol. 7, No. 4, 2017, U Denver Legal Studies Research Paper No. 17-38, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3035256

Eli Wald (Contact Author)

University of Denver Sturm College of Law ( email )

2255 E. Evans Avenue
Denver, CO 80208
United States

HOME PAGE: http://law.du.edu/index.php/profile/eli-wald

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics