The California La Raza Lawyers Association has been a frequent burr in the governor’s judicial appointments side, publicly cajoling, pushing and needling him to name more minorities to the bench.
Now, the organization’s members charge, the governor appears to be retaliating for all that effort. Maribel Medina, the group’s judicial chairwoman, says that not only did the governor not appoint a Latino in his latest round of 13 appointments last month, he’s hasn’t picked a candidate endorsed by La Raza Lawyers in almost three years.
“To have 100 percent of those individuals not appointed, we’re concerned that if you’re a member of La Raza Lawyers, you’re blacklisted,” Medina said.
Latinos Welcome, La Raza Not? Follow the jump …
Medina said those concerns grew after she and La Raza Lawyers President Alberto Gonzalez met with Schwarzenegger's legal affairs secretary, Sharon Majors-Lewis, Oct. 1. Medina said Majors-Lewis told them that she was not inclined to recommend candidates who are only members of a single ethnic bar association. Nor, Medina said, would Majors-Lewis favor young applicants who did not have an older mentor, particularly in rural counties.
“It was incredibly troubling,” Medina said of the conversation.
Majors-Lewis declined through a spokesman to comment on Medina’s assertions or her recounting of the Oct. 1 meeting. She did issue the following statement:
“A bench that reflects the diversity of our state is a goal that both the governor and I share, and we remain committed to appointing the best and the brightest individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds to serve the people of California.”
Of the hundreds of lawyers who have applied for judgeships during Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s tenure, 9.4 percent have described themselves as Latino, according to figures from the governor’s office. Of the judges Schwarzenegger has appointed, 9.9 percent are self-described Latinos.
Schwarzenegger has appointed members of other ethnic bars. For instance, Monica Wiley, a 39-year-old senior associate for Carlson Calladine & Peterson and judicial chair of the Oakland-based Charles Houston Bar Association, was named to the San Francisco Superior Court last month.
La Raza Lawyers has had a roller-coaster relationship with the governor. The group was unhappy with ex-Appointments Secretary John Davies’ record but initially praised Majors-Lewis for her work. Apparently the roller-coaster has hit another dip.
You can read Medina and Gonzalez’ letter to Majors-Lewis responding to their Oct. 1 meeting here: La Raza letter.pdf.
— Cheryl Miller
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