WSBA Board of Governors
Michele Radosevich, President
Patrick A. Palace, President-elect
Stephen R. Crossland, Imm. Past-President
Kenneth W. Masters, 1st Dist.
Philip J. Buri, 2nd Dist.; Treasurer
Brian J. Kelly, 3rd Dist.
Gerald J. Moberg, 4th Dist.
Hon. Paul A. Bastine, 5th Dist.
Vernon W. Harkins, 6th Dist.
Daniel G. Ford, 7th-East Dist.
Judy I. Massong, 7th-Central Dist.
Barbara J. Rhoads-Weaver,
Wilton S. Viall III, 8th Dist.
Susan Machler, 9th District
James W. Armstrong, At-large
Tracy S. Flood, At-large
Robin L. Haynes, At-large ( YLC)
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Diversity Discussion Needed
I have some comments that are responsive to
Mr. James A. Winterstein’s, under the heading “Diversity Divides” in the February
NWLawyer [Inbox]. Mr. Winterstein’s question
about whether “minorities are ‘
disproportionately punished’ relative to their percentage of
the general population or whether they are,
in fact, punished in proportion to the crimes
they commit” is a valid question. In fact, in
March 2011, a Preliminary Report on Race
and Washington’s Criminal Justice System
and in March 2012, a report on Juvenile
Justice and Racial Disproportionality were
presented to the Washington Supreme Court
by the Task Force on Race and the Criminal
Justice System (the video presentations of
such reports and supporting documents are
available at: http://tinyurl.com/ajdjcc6 and
Furthermore, Mr. Winterstein’s analogy
regarding professional athletes and the WSBA
is faulty. First, the country has a long history
of racial discrimination in professional sports
(I’m happy to support this position if anyone
seriously needs it). Second, the WSBA has
a history of disparate racial treatment. For
example, Takuji Yamashita graduated with a
law degree from the University of Washington in 1902 and passed the bar exam with
distinction but was not admitted to practice
law because he was a native of Japan. The
state Supreme Court recognized this injustice
when it posthumously admitted Mr. Yamashita
as an honorary member of the state bar on
March 1, 2001.
Now, Mr. Winterstein may ask for proof
of recent diversity problems in the WSBA. I
admit that the statistic that racial minorities
account for 22.7% of the Washington state
population, but only 12% of the members
of the WSBA, is meaningless without more
analysis. Fortunately, the WSBA has a Membership Study that delves into this (available
Membership-Study). In addition, there are
several other studies that explore this topic,
including the 2009–10 Law Firm Diversity
Report (for full disclosure, I participated in the
drafting of this report and hold board positions
on different minority bar associations, but
these are my individual comments and may
not be representative of such associations or
my employer). In addition, and more tangible,
studies show that minority lawyers have been
disproportionately downsized during the
recent economic downturn. (See Aviva Cuyler,
“Diversity in the Practice of Law: How Far Have