When I pick topics for these blogs, I am always looking for timely issues that seem to crop up multiple times around me. Gender bias in the courtroom has appeared multiple times in the course of a couple days. Let me explain. First, I am doing my continuing education credits for the California BAR. I just listened to a great video on the elimination of bias. The focus was on gender bias in the courtroom, specifically. I watched, interested (wink, wink), like I do all my videos. However, when I saw an article a few days later about gender bias in the courtroom, I was convinced this was a timely and relevant topic.
I am an attorney. I have been in the courtroom as an attorney and as a litigant. We are all human. We all come to the courtroom with our own set of biases that, hopefully, we are working like crazy to minimize. Sometimes this works out well and each party is heard and the decision is based solely upon the facts of the case, regardless of gender. Other times, the courtroom seems to be fraught with bias, and not just from the bench. As a litigant, you are already on edge when you are in court, believe me, everyone is. It is a tense place to be. The addition of gender bias in the courtroom adds to the tension.
The story I ran across was from the ABA Journal. In this case, it wasn’t the judge who misbehaved, it was one Santa Barbara attorney to another. One attorney told another that it, “wasn’t becoming of a lady” to raise her voice. The judge, in all her glory took umbrage with this statement and sanctioned the attorney for the cost of the deposition, at issue, and an extra $250 to be paid to a Women’s BAR group. I love this. It just tickles me.
So the big question…
The easiest, best, and simplest answer is don’t go to court. Mediate your dispute. Almost all disputes can be mediated today, even your divorce. Don’t go into a situation where another human being is fighting against their own biases to rule fairly in your case. Craft your own future through mediation.
Beyond this easy solution, you are rolling the dice. Humans are….well, human. We all are doing are best. If you opt to litigate, just make sure that you model bias elimination and encourage your attorney to remain above board. Although, in the jaws of a fight, winning at all costs may seem like the right course. In the end, you want your ruling to be on the issues and the facts of the matter.