The Commission on Gender, Justice, and the Courts was established by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in January 1993, pursuant to a resolution adopted by the Conference of Chief Justices in 1988 urging the creation of task forces to study gender bias and minority concerns within court systems. In recent years, forty-one states, the District of Columbia, and two federal circuits have established task forces on gender bias in the courts as part of a continuing effort to achieve equality for women and men in American society. These jurisdictions recognized that access to a neutral and unbiased court is essential to the administration of justice, and is guaranteed to every person under the Constitutions of the United States and most states. The mandate of Maine's Commission was to identify attitudes and behavior within the Maine judicial system that either reflect gender bias or may be perceived to reflect such bias, to consider how gender affects the treatment of women and men in the legal and judicial environment, and to make appropriate remedial recommendations that could be implemented by the Court. The Court also charged the Commission with developing recommendations to ensure that gender-based myths, biases and stereotypes do not affect judicial decisionmaking. The ultimate goal was to ensure that all participants in the court system be treated fairly and that the justice system operate free of any bias.

First Page