Lawyers Journal

ABA’s Archer targets diversity, judicial independence at MBA-cosponsored event

At a luncheon during the recent Massachusetts Black Judges Conference at Southern New England School of Law, American Bar Association President-Elect Dennis Archer and Massachusetts Bar Association President Joseph P.J. Vrabel had an opportunity to meet briefly and share thoughts on two issues at the forefront of both men’s minds — judicial independence and diversity in the profession.

Dennis Archer & Joseph P.J. Vrabel
American Bar Association President-Elect Dennis Archer (left) and Massachusetts Bar Association President Joseph P.J. Vrabel gather for a luncheon during the recent Massachusetts Black Judges Conference at Southern New England School of Law.


Many of the more than 30 members of the state’s Black Judges Conference attended the luncheon, which the MBA cosponsored with the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. Noting that only 10 percent of lawyers in the United States are of color, Archer spoke of the effects of the critical imbalance between the ethnic majority in the country’s population and the lagging diversity in the ranks of both judges and lawyers.

“Right now we have an America that has as its population base a majority of people of color,” he said. “We will have to fill up the pipeline of people of color in this profession, so that, as someone of color comes into a courtroom and looks around at the faces, they want to feel that the judge and the lawyers will be impartial and fair.”

On the subject of judicial elections, Archer praised Massachusetts as one of the few remaining states that holds to the principle of judicial independence and termed a “mixed dilemma” the situation of many other states, including his home state of Michigan, where judges are elected or must run for retention.

“In states such as mine, where people who want to be judges have to raise money — well, what does a private citizen think about that” if they have to go before a judge who had to raise money and campaign for the position?

“Judges don’t represent a constituency,” Archer said. “They do the peoples’ work … they represent the Constitution of the United States of America.”

©2014 Massachusetts Bar Association