Yamhill Co. judge to lead talks on racial justice in courts
A diverse group of judges and judiciary officials from around the state are coming together Thursday to discuss an important issue facing Oregon and the nation's courts: racial justice.
A discussion planned for Feb. 18 will look at possible biases and inequities in the criminal justice system and how those in power might work to solve those problems. The talk will be hosted by Yamhill County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Easterday.
Oregon Supreme Court Justice Adrienne Nelson and Access to Justice Counsel Valerie Colas will discuss what is being done at the state level, according to promotional materials for the discussion. Other local judges will discuss what is being done in Yamhill County and questions will be taken.
"The court is an integral part of the justice system and has an essential role to play in ensuring justice for all," Easterday said in an email. "Courts must examine our individual thoughts and beliefs, as well as our professional approaches, processes and environments to address the impact of our own biases. We must examine what we are doing or failing to do to root out conscious and unconscious bias in our legal system."
Easterday and other officials of varying backgrounds — including Black and Latino officials — started the Yamhill County Court Committee to Ensure Racial Justice, which works to ensure that "the color of peoples' skin does not affect their rights to justice or the treatment they are afforded by our system of justice," Easterday said.
"This past fall, while I was having a local virtual meeting with members of the Yamhill County Bar Association, I asked if any attorneys would be interested in joining me in developing a committee on ensuring racial justice," she said. "Lots of hands went up and we've been meeting since then."
The committee was integral in the planning of the Feb. 18 discussion, which kicks off at 5:30 p.m. on WebEx, a video streaming platform.
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