While national attention is often focused on the United States Supreme Court, the top courts in each state typically are the final word on interpreting state law and making decisions that more than 23, lower state court judges are to follow. Ninety-five percent of all cases filed in the United States are heard in state courts.
Those courts decide some of the most pressing issues affecting our lives. In recent years, state supreme courts have reversed billion-dollar verdicts in consumer protection cases , authorized executions using experimental drugs, barred localities from regulating fracking and struck down restrictive abortion laws. But seldom do these courts look anything like an increasingly diverse America.
We found that nearly half of all states do not have a single justice sitting on their high courts who is black, Asian, Latino, or Native American — even though people of color make up about 40 percent of the population. In eight of the 24 states with all-white high courts, people of color make up at least a quarter of the population. Thirteen states have not seated a single justice of color since at least Eighteen states have never seated a black justice.
The dearth of gender diversity is also appalling. Women hold only 36 percent of the seats on top state courts. New York. Surrogate's, Family, District, and City.
North Carolina. North Dakota. Northern Mariana Islands, Commonwealth of the.
Puerto Rico. Rhode Island.
South Carolina. South Dakota. The State Courts Heritage Gallery chronicles the district courts' progress, and highlights memorable cases that have sparked change.
It was launched by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon yesterday, in conjunction with the Bicentennial celebrations. The Presiding Judge of the State Courts, Justice See Kee Oon, said the gallery seeks to commemorate the progress of the nation over the years, and the important role played by the State Courts through that journey.
Highlights of the gallery include a digital display of 15 high-profile cases heard in the district courts over the last four decades. These include the City Harvest Church saga in which highlighted a gap in the criminal breach of trust law, after the church leaders involved were given lighter sentences upon appeal. The Michael Fay vandalism incident is also among the 15 cases. The American teenager was caned for vandalising cars and public property despite great pressure from the United States, with then US president Bill Clinton making a personal appeal for clemency.
Said Justice See: "The cases serve as a testament to the State Courts' important role in dispensing justice and upholding law and order in different periods of Singapore's development. These three cases showcase the courtroom's transition from a traditional paper-based one to a modern one that is paper-light, said Justice See.