For Immediate Release
Sept. 9, 2020
Contact: Angelica Luna-Kaufman
District Judge Renews Call for Texas Supreme Court
to Implement Bias Training
Judge R.K. Sandill Says Required Training Needed
for Judges State-Wide to Rebuild Confidence in the Justice System
HOUSTON – Citing the need to restore faith in the judiciary system, Judge R.K. Sandill renewed his call for the Texas Supreme Court to implement bias training for judges across the state.
“All people, including judges, carry biases. Acknowledging them can reduce potential effects on decisions we make,” said Sandill, who presides over the Harris County 127th District Court. “Bias training will help ensure judges make the fairest decisions.”
Sandill first contacted the Texas Supreme Court and the Office of Court Administration in June with a formal request. He says recent events have further demonstrated the pervasiveness of racial and gender disparities in American society, pointing to an urgent need to put a bias-training plan in place.
“When trained to be on the lookout for implicit biases, we can mitigate that unconscious bias in court, making the justice system fairer and more equitable,” said Sandill.
He has asked the Texas Supreme Court to do the following:
- Implement mandatory implicit bias/mindfulness training for all judges in Texas
- Require judges to complete an implicit bias workshop at least once every four years
- Create a task force to identify additional ways to mitigate and interrupt biases
Lillie Schechter, Chair of the Harris County Democratic Party, says Sandill’s call to action “demonstrates his commitment to restoring public trust.”
“When a member of the state judiciary makes a formal request to the Texas Supreme Court, we all need to take notice,” Schechter said. “While President Trump is trying to ban this type of diversity training, Judge Sandill recognizes that it is critically needed.”
“As a judge, as well as a person of color, Judge Sandill acknowledges that we all carry unconscious biases,” said Schechter. “He is asking for resources to mitigate their influence on judiciary decisions. This shows the strength of his core values.”
Schechter said that the work of state district judges directly impacts the lives of people in their communities, and this is why it is important to vote on the entire ballot -- from start to finish.
“Texas has one of the longest ballots in the country, but as we see here, the leaders we elect in those down-ballot races can have a profound effect on the communities that elect them," she said. “Judge Sandill was elected because people voted down the ballot.”
“Don’t stop at the top,” Schechter said, “because changing our communities for the better happens by electing people, like Judge Sandill. That's why voting down the ballot matters.”