Throughout our series on sexism in the courtroom, we’ve made it clear that this is a rampant problem that far too many female litigators face.
However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It does seem that, when it comes to this critical issue, change is slowly coming.
For starters, major organizations such as the American Bar Association are taking steps to end sexual harassment and sexism through the entire legal profession. There are also ramifications for inappropriate behavior. For instance, male lawyers can now be fined for calling female lawyers “honey” or “sweetie” in court. 9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski saw his career come to an end after being accused of sexual misconduct by at least a dozen women in the legal professional. And Veteran U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes was also rebuked for making demeaning remarks to a female federal prosecutor during a trial.
Also, many people in power (including male and female judges) are taking a stand. As Judge Ashleigh Parker Dunston, our most recent Freedom Fighter, told us, “I personally believe that it’s imperative for judges to call out this demeaning behavior and be vocal that it will not be tolerated in their courtrooms from them or from anyone else. And now that I am a judge, I believe I have the responsibility to speak up for these women who feel like their voices have been silenced. ”
And Judge Dunston is not the only judge making a difference.
Danylle M. Carson is an associate attorney at a firm in Maine. Here’s what she had to say about our series on sexism in the courtroom:”I practice primarily in the district court in Androscoggin, Franklin, Oxford, and Kennebec counties. These counties represent two separate judicial districts. I practice before well over a dozen male and female judges. I’ve practiced law for nearly four years.
Our bench contains a fair mix of male and female judges, ranging from those nearing retirement to those recently appointed. In every experience I have encountered, I have been treated with dignity and respect by my bench. The judges are neither pejorative nor condescending. The male judges are not sexist or inappropriate. In contrast, I would suggest the judges in my district tow a tight line with all counsel before them, consistently, while at the same time doling out grace when justice permits it.
The camaraderie had within the Maine state bar—between counsel and across the bench—is unparalleled. I have learned a great deal from the members of my bench, from their guidance and patience as I was young female litigator who found her way into the practice of law. I am honored to be a part of this community and to practice before these judges.”
Carson’s words are encouraging. With an increasing number of judges and other legal professionals such as Judge Dunston and those Carson refers to—and with more awareness and legislation regarding this issue—female litigators and other female law professionals might finally start seeing a change in the courtroom that has taken far too long to come.