Robert C. Murphy Courts of Appeal Building
361 Rowe Boulevard
F Todd Silver 410-260-1563
Sally Rankin 410-260-1488
ANNAPOLIS (March 21, 2003) – Following a series of public hearings statewide to listen to experiences and recommendations on racial and ethnic fairness in the court system, this month the Maryland Judiciary’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Judicial Process will be mailing a comprehensive questionnaire to 10,000 court users inquiring about their interaction with the courts.
“The public hearings gave us a chance to talk with court users who may have experienced racial or ethnic issues in the court system,” says Court of Appeals Judge Dale R. Cathell, Commission chair. “The questionnaire will provide us with detailed answers to questions related directly to preserving racial and ethnic fairness in the courts.”
The 150-question survey will be mailed to a random sample of litigants who have been to either the District Court of Maryland or circuit courts in the past two years. The Commission will collect and examine results from the questionnaire, which will be used along with feedback from the public forums to ascertain how to reduce or eliminate unequal access and unequal treatment, increase public confidence in the equal application of the law in Maryland, identify initiatives that will raise both public and professional awareness, and develop educational programs for the bench and bar. Recommendations will be placed in the Commission’s final report to Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert M. Bell, which should be completed by the summer of 2004.
“I expect that the Commission will make a thorough and complete examination of any appearance of racial or ethnic bias in the court system,” says Chief Judge Bell. “Our courts must, at all times, dispense justice fairly and equally, without bias.”
The Commission of Racial and Ethic
Fairness in the Judicial Process was established in January 2002 by Chief
Judge Bell to examine court-related equality issues, and to propose solutions
to identified problems that are within the power of the judiciary to implement.
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