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All-Court Conference on Race and Implicit Bias

Wednesday, September 16, 2015 | 9:00 am - 4:00 pm

Co-sponsored with the Supreme Judicial Court and the Massachusetts Trial Court

 


Recent events in Ferguson, New York, Baltimore, Cleveland and other cities have prompted a spirited public debate and raised important questions about the intersection of race and justice in our country. The questions dominating the public discourse display a concern among some that considerations of race, whether intentional or not, adversely impact the quality of justice in our courts. For this reason, we see a value in examining the role of the courts in addressing race as it affects the pursuit of justice in our courts. While we are persuaded that judges in Massachusetts are committed to a justice system untainted by racial bias, we have resolved to open a dialogue among Massachusetts judges to consider the impact of implicit bias on the work we do in courthouses across the Commonwealth. To that end, we are convening an all-court conference on race and implicit bias.

The full-day program will feature among its components a presentation by a nationally-known expert on implicit bias. Judges, with the assistance of experts in the field, will also participate in moderated small group discussions designed to help judges better recognize, understand, and overcome stereotypes and bias. This effort is intended to be a system wide approach to bias and is not intended to be a single conference. As a system we hope to develop a consciousness and a structure to address discrimination, racism, and ethnocentrism from a systems perspective. Mandatory for all Massachusetts judges to attend, this program will begin to explore how unconscious bias affects the legal system and judicial decision-making.