In December 1988, the New York Commission on Minorities, chaired by Ambassador Franklin H. Williams, organized and hosted the first meeting of what was called “state court task forces and commissions on racial and ethnic bias”. The purpose of the meeting was to provide the task forces and commissions from New Jersey, New York, Michigan, and Washington State an opportunity to discuss the status of their research and program activities. The four states and their chairpersons were: The Honorable Harold Hood, Court of Appeals, Michigan; The Honorable Theodore Z. Davis, Superior Court, New Jersey; Ambassador Franklin H. Williams, Phelps Stokes Fund, New York; and The Honorable Charles Z. Smith, Associate Justice, State Supreme Court, Washington. The executive directors of these task forces and commissions were: Lorraine H. Weber, Esquire, Michigan; Yolande P. Marlow, Ph. D., New Jersey; Edna Wells Handy, Esquire, New York; and Desiree B. Leigh, M.A., Washington.

In January 1989, a follow-up meeting was held in Orlando, Florida for the purpose of adopting a formal structure which would enhance communication between existing and future task forces and commissions on racial and ethnic bias in the judiciary. During this meeting, the group voted unanimously to establish a formal cooperative relationship and to request that the National Center for State Courts to act as the group’s secretariat.

The group adopted the name The National Consortium of Task Forces and Commissions on Racial and Ethnic Bias in the Courts.

In 2002, the name of the organization was changed to The National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts. Also in the same year, the Conference of Chief Justices through Resolution #18, re-affirmed their support of the National Consortium’s activities and its efforts to promote racial, ethnic and fairness principles in the court.