Public opinion sought on gender fairness in state courts

February 28, 2002

The Supreme Court's Gender Fairness Task Force is conducting a public opinion survey and has scheduled three public hearings to gauge public attitudes about gender fairness or bias in state courts.

Public hearing dates and locations include:

A Gender Fairness Task Force public opinion survey is available on the Supreme Court's web site, www.mssc.state.ms.us. To get a copy of the survey, go to the News button. Survey forms may be printed and mailed to the Administrative Office of Courts at the address indicated on the survey.

The survey asks participants to rate their perception of gender fairness or bias toward men and women in Mississippi courts during the past three years. The survey asks participants who believe bias exists to describe their perceptions of the most critical problem. The survey also asks for further comments about gender issues in state courts.

Task Force Co-chair Deanne Mosley said, "We urge the public to attend the hearings and share with us their experiences with the judicial system as they relate to gender fairness."

"The statewide public hearings are an essential component in the determination of whether gender bias exists in our judicial system," Mosley said. "Before any real progress can occur, we must listen to the consumers of the judicial system as they share their experiences, whether they reveal gender fairness or gender bias.

The Mississippi Supreme Court created the Task Force on Gender Fairness by order on Aug. 26, 1998. It's mission is to determine the nature and scope of gender bias and to propose measures to reduce or eliminate bias. The 50-member task force is made up of lawyers, retired judges and lay persons from across the state. Former Lt. Gov. Evelyn Gandy serves as honorary chair. Mosley, a special assistant attorney general, and attorney Amy Whitten are co-chairs.

The task force since July 2000 has conducted surveys of lawyers, judges and court staff. Those surveys showed that a perception of gender bias lingers in Mississippi state courts, according to an interim report of the task force made public in January.

For more information about the Gender Fairness Task Force, call Susan Stewart, Administrative Office of Courts project manager, at 601-354-7446, or Beverly Pettigrew Kraft, public information officer, at 601-354-7452.

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