SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT (SJC) WEIGHS IN

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By Bob Katzen

The seven justices of the state’s SJC penned an open letter to members of the Judiciary and attorneys across the state. Here are some excerpts:

“The events of the last few months have reminded us of what African Americans know all too well: that too often, by too many, black lives are not treated with the dignity and respect accorded to white lives. As judges and as lawyers, we are both saddened and angry at the confluence of recent events that have revealed how much more we need to do to create a just, fair, and peaceful society.

But we must do more than express our feelings of sadness and anger. As judges, we must look afresh at what we are doing, or failing to do, to root out any conscious and unconscious bias in our courtrooms; to ensure that the justice provided to African-Americans is the same that is provided to white Americans; to create in our courtrooms, our corner of the world, a place where all are truly equal.

As lawyers, we must also look at what we are doing, or failing to do, to provide legal assistance to those who cannot afford it; to diminish the economic and environmental inequalities arising from race; and to ensure that our law offices not only hire attorneys of color but also truly welcome them into the legal community.

And, as members of the legal community, we need to reexamine why, too often, our criminal justice system fails to treat African-Americans the same as white Americans and recommit ourselves to the systemic change needed to make equality under the law an enduring reality for all.

Perhaps most importantly, it is a time for solidarity and fellowship with African-American judges and attorneys, to acknowledge their pain, to hear about the conversations they now have with their children, and to stand together when others may try to divide us.”

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