The North Dakota Commission to Study Racial and Ethnic Bias in the Courts has completed its study and released a final report.
The Commission study was undertaken as an initial effort to investigate potential bias in the state courts and to propose solutions for any issues discovered. The final report includes information on jury selection, criminal and civil courts, and issues surrounding the need for language interpreters in courts. Minority representation was also examined in the juvenile system, among North Dakota attorneys, and among state court employees.
The report presents a series of findings and recommendations for addressing bias in these areas, as well as general recommendations directed toward broader issues, such as the need for further study.
The Commission relied on statistics to suggest areas of disparity in the system and public testimony to gather perceptions of bias. Commission members implemented several original studies and examined a range of regularly-collected data from court system processes. Perceptions were gathered through surveys, public meetings, and focus groups. Members considered the work of previous bias task forces in other states, as well as state and national research, to provide guidance for the North Dakota study.
The Commission completed its two-year investigation in June. Co-Chair Judge Donovan Foughty and Co-Chair Justice Carol Ronning-Kapsner presented the final report to Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle in early July.
The Commission's final report, including findings and recommendations, is available to the public for download at: http://www.ndcourts.gov/court/committees/bias_commission/FinalReport2012.pdf
The Commission's interim report, which was released in December, 2010 and describes early activities and preliminary data, is available for download at: http://www.ndcourts.gov/court/committees/bias_commission/InterimReport6.pdf
Please contact Andrew Frank at email@example.com or (701) 328-4248 with any questions. Additional information is available at: http://www.ndcourts.gov/court/committees/bias_commission/commission.asp.
July 24, 2012