History of the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts
In December 1988, the New York Commission on Minorities, chaired by Ambassador Franklin H. Williams, organized and hosted the first meeting of then existing 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.
One of the outcomes of this historic meeting was a decision by the chairpersons and executive directors to schedule a follow-up meeting in Orlando, Florida, January 20-22, 1989, for the purpose of exploring and adopting a formal structure which would enhance communication between existing and future task forces and commissions on racial and ethnic bias in the judiciary. The following four states were represented: Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Washington. The chairpersons of these task forces and commissions 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.
During the 1989 meeting, the group voted unanimously to establish a formal cooperative relationship and to request that the National Center for State Courts 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. Then in 2002, the name of the organization was changed to The National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts.
In the intervening years, the National Consortium has grown from four (4) state task forces and commissions to over thirty-seven (37). By-Laws were adopted in 1995 at the Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, and modified in 2005 at the Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. The organization was incorporated in 1999.