Many people who get arrested, especially for a DUI, think that the police aren't giving them a fair deal. Police officers don't always listen to what you have to say, and in some cases they treat you as guilty before you've done anything wrong. The police can arrest you, but they can't convict you. That is for the judicial system to decide. Will the justice system give you the fair treatment you deserve? The East Bay has an extremely diverse population, but does the judicial system reflect that diversity?
A recent study from Stanford shows that prosecutors in California do not reflect the diversity of the state's population. Stanford Law School and the Stanford Criminal Justice Center looked at data from 52 of 58 counties in California, which represented about 98 percent of the population. they found that almost 70 percent of state prosecutors were white, even though whites make up less 40 percent of the population.
The study, titled Stuck in the ‘70s: The Demographics of California Prosecutors, noted that the last time 70 percent of California's population was white, it was in 1977 and Jimmy Carter was president. There has been a lot of commentary on the issue of how race may impact law enforcement, but less attention has been drawn to prosecutors. After all, the prosecutors are the ones who determine who is charged, what the charges are, and whether the state will make a deal.
Whether you find the prosecutors representative of you will depend on who you are. Whites may be over represented, but African Americans and women are not underrepresented. African Americans make up just under 6 percent of both population and prosecutors. About 48 percent of prosecutors are women. However, Latinos, who make up almost 39 percent of the population, account for only 9 percent of prosecutors.
When it comes to the Bay Area, the numbers may be even less representative. According to an analysis by the Women Donors Network's Reflective Democracy Campaign, all of the District Attorneys for the Bay Area counties are white, and six of them are white men. Alameda County's Nancy O'Malley is one of only eleven elected District Attorneys in California. About 60 percent of Alameda County's population is not white; however, all of the prior DAs in the county have been white men.
A report from LGBT bar associations in California found that when it comes to judges, their population is also underrepresented. Of the 62 federal district court judges in the state, only one is openly gay. There are three openly LGBT federal magistrate judges out of 65 in California. When it comes to local superior courts, most counties (45 of 58) have no self-identified LGBT judges.
Population disparities are also reflecting in the people who get convicted and go to jail. The jail population in Alameda County is estimated at about 55 percent African American and 20 percent Latino. Brenda Choresi Carter, the director of the Reflective Democracy Campaign, noted that prosecutors play a very powerful role in the criminal justice system, even if it is not as visible.
It may be intimidating to face an unrepresentative prosecutor and judge alone. If you have an East Bay defense lawyer on your side, you won't have to face it alone. At Gorelick Law Offices, attorney Lynn Gorelick has dedicated her legal career to defending people facing DUI and other charges in the East Bay. With more than 30 years of experience, Lynn Gorelick understands the laws, and will make sure you get the justice you deserve. If you are facing a DUI, or other alcohol-related charges, contact the local East Bay DUI defense attorney who understands that you do not have to plead guilty just because you were arrested.