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N E W S R E L E A S E
July 3, 2007
Contact: David Madden (415) 355-8930
Ninth Circuit to Make Judicial History
with First Panel of Hispanic Judges
SAN FRANCISCO – The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will make judicial history next week when an appellate panel consisting of three judges of Hispanic descent hears oral arguments in Seattle. It will be the first all-Hispanic panel to sit in any of the nation’s federal courts of appeal since they were established in 1891.
Circuit Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw and Senior Circuit Judges Arthur Alarcón and Ferdinand Fernandez comprise the panel, which will consider appeals of decisions reached in the federal trial courts of Washington and Idaho. The proceeding will be held July 11, beginning at 9:30 a.m. on the 21st floor of the Park Place Building, 1200 Sixth Ave., Seattle.
Judges Wardlaw and Alárcon have parents who were born in Mexico, while Judge Fernandez’ father was born in Spain and his mother was of Spanish descent. They are among six Hispanic judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the most of any circuit court in the country.
“When you think of the immigration this country has had from all quarters and our melting pot history, I would have thought this would have happened more than once by now,” observed Judge Wardlaw, who was appointed to the court in 1998 by President Clinton.
“It’s very important for our courts to reflect the diversity and multi-culturalism of our society,” she added. “It gives us credibility when people are being judged by people who may have had similar experiences or at least can comprehend their experiences.”
For Judge Alárcon, appointed in 1979 by President Carter and currently the longest-serving Hispanic circuit judge in the country, an all-Hispanic panel may be overdue, but gratifying nonetheless.
“I would hope that it will encourage Hispanic kids that they can go after their dreams and achieve. There has never been a Hispanic on the Supreme Court and I think that’s something that will be available very soon,” Judge Alárcon said.
Also of Hispanic descent are Ninth Circuit Judges Richard Paez, appointed in 2000 by President Clinton, and Consuelo Callahan and Carlos Bea, appointed in 2003 and 2005, respectively, by President Bush.
Appellate panels are drawn randomly and there has been the possibility of an all-Hispanic panel in the Ninth Circuit since 1998. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has had at least three judges of Hispanic descent since 1994, but has not drawn an all-Hispanic panel yet.
All told, there are currently 14 judges of Hispanic descent currently serving on the 11 regional courts of appeal, according to the Federal Judicial Center, which maintains a database on the gender and ethnicity of federal judges. The Second Circuit has two Hispanic judges and the First, Third and 10th circuits each have one.
Among the cases to be heard by the Ninth Circuit panel next week in Seattle are:
• Card v. City of Everett, in which Jesse Card appeals the district court’s summary judgment in favor of the city and its mayor in Card’s action alleging that the city’s display of a granite monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments violates the constitutions of the United States and the State of Washington. Case 05-35996.
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