NH court system launches diversity and inclusion initiative

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Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 11:30 AM EST
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CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire’s judicial branch has launched a “Diversity and Inclusion” initiative to identify and eliminate cultural biases within the court system.

It includes widespread community outreach and in-person meetings to engage court users in a dialogue about their experiences, organizers said Thursday.

“The New Hampshire Constitution explicitly states ‘Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by this state on account of race, creed, color, sex or national origin’’' said Superior Court Judge David Ruoff, a co-chair of a Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee. “It is an honor for all of us to be part of this important effort to uncover and correct any barriers that interfere with the court system’s ability to meet this fundamental obligation.”

A strategic plan includes an analysis of staff and judicial officers’ understanding of unconscious bias and their sensitivity to factors such as race, gender, disabilities, socio-economic conditions, and limited English proficiency among court system users.

It also requires that all judges and staff participate in training about biases and their impact.

The initiative is “an opportunity we have not had before” to engage people in a discussion about the court system and “how can we make it better for people of color,” said James McKim Jr., Manchester NAACP president and a committee advisory board member.

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