Friday, November 16, 2007

Where the women judges aren’t

U.S. District Judge Andre M. Davis hosted five Egyptian jurists Thursday morning at the federal courthouse in Baltimore as part of their tour of the American judicial system.

The visiting judges were among 30 women who were named to Egypt’s bench in April in an acknowledged quest for diversity by a country that saw its first female judge less than 5 years ago.

Their crash course in the workings of U.S. courts began in a conference room where Davis and his colleagues meet every Wednesday to videoconference with their peers in Greenbelt.

The contrast between the seminar participants (a black American man and five Egyptian women) and the portraits on the wall (of four white men — three federal judges and a chancellor from centuries past) was stark.

The United States has certainly come a long way since the days of all-white, all-male benches and bars — far enough to teach Egypt a thing or two.

But wait: of Davis’ peers on the U.S. District Court in Maryland, how many are women? Two, out of a total of 10 judges, or two out of 13 if you also count the senior judges.

There are also only two women on the seven-member Maryland Court of Appeals, and four on the 13-member Court of Special Appeals. And needless to say, there’s only one woman on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Seems the teacher must keep learning, too.

-BRENDAN KEARNEY, Legal Affairs Writer

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