April 24, 2023

Vermont Judiciary Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Seeks Public Input

Next Community Forum

To request an interpreter or to ask for an ADA accommodation for an upcoming forum, please make your request least 3 business days before the session:

The public is invited to provide input on DEI matters in the Judiciary

Last year, the Vermont Supreme Court established the Judiciary Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.  The Commission was established in recognition of the Vermont Constitution’s provisions that justice be “impartially administered, without corruption or unnecessary delay.”

“The obligation of the Judiciary to ensure that court users receive impartial justice grounds the work that is done every day by judges and staff throughout the state,” said Commission co-chair Chief Justice Paul Reiber.  “That said,” he noted “we believe there is value in systematically identifying ways to improve our practices from a diversity, equity, and inclusion perspective.  That is why the Commission was established.”

The Commission is comprised of 14 members from both within and outside of the judicial branch.  The Commission’s overarching purpose is to “advance racial and social equity in pursuit of equal justice under the law.”

The work of the Commission is divided among three committees, each of which is chaired by a Supreme Court Justice.  One committee is focused on the judiciary’s collection and use of demographic data, one is focused on the administration and operations of the branch, and one is focused on community engagement.

“The committee structure was designed to ensure that the Commission’s work addresses all of the dimensions of our work in which diversity, equity, and inclusion considerations are relevant,” said Associate Justice Nancy Waples, the Commission’s other co-chair.  Justice Waples further noted that “the Commission’s work to date has already revealed opportunities for improving judiciary practices that can help us meet Commission goals.”

The Commission’s Community Engagement Committee, which is chaired by Chief Justice Reiber, is hosting a public forum in each county to give members of the public an opportunity to comment on the branch’s diversity, equity, and inclusion practices.

The community engagement series began in late 2022 in Chittenden County, and to date eight forums have been held.  The next forum will be held in Brattleboro on April 26 at 4:00 p.m. at the Criminal and Family Courthouse.  It will be an in-person and remote event, meaning that individuals wishing to participate remotely can do so.

“We encourage people to attend one of our forums to share their thoughts,” said Chief Justice Reiber, who added “we are at the halfway point of our forums, and we look forward to hearing from Vermonters at one or more stops along the way.”

Justice Waples joined the Chief Justice in encouraging people to participate in the forums.  “Our visits to the communities where people live and work to hear about their experiences with the courts have been one of the most important aspects of our work to date,” she said.

The Commission is charged with making periodic reports to the Supreme Court.  Its final report with recommendations is due to the Supreme Court in early 2024.

More information about the Commission, including details about the forums and links to join them remotely, is available on the Commission’s webpage, at https://www.vermontjudiciary.org/dei.