The Ohio State Bar Foundation (OSBF) hosted The Color of Justice: Racial Inequities in the Justice System, a virtual symposium that worked to build understanding around barriers in the justice system, the populations being affected, and opportunities for change on an individual and systemic level, on April 26, 2023 from 12:00pm – 3:30pm.
“The Color of Justice Symposium reveals how critical it is for us to identify and challenge racism,” said Judge David A. Hejmanowski, OSBF President. “I appreciate the thoughtful analysis and practical advice offered from each of our policy leaders. Understanding how these challenges impact justice outcomes is a critical step in creating a more just legal system.”
In August 2020, the OSBF created a Racial Justice Initiative to provide grant funding to support projects focused on long-lasting impact and institutional change for racial justice. Since then, 788,865 has been provided in grant funding to support these projects. The next deadline for the Racial Justice Initiative grants application is July 15, 2023.
In addition to grantmaking, each year the OSBF welcomes a new class of Fellows, a dedicated group of attorneys who volunteer their time, talent, and treasure to advance the law and build a better justice system through community service. This group of exemplary attorneys design their own class experience centered around a legal topic they choose. The 2022 OSBF Fellows chose to focus on race-based disparate treatment in the justice system, and the result of their efforts is the Color of Justice program.
“The Color of Justice Symposium is a reflection of the OSBF’s commitment to racial justice,” said Lori L. Keating, OSBF Executive Director. “We are proud of the OSBF Fellows for investing their time and talents to develop education about racial disparities within the justice system. This program is the culmination of their tireless work.”
The program began with an introductory session featuring New York Times best-selling author of Just Pursuit: A Black Prosecutor's Fight for Fairness and CNN Host and Senior Legal Analyst Laura Coates. Coates was joined by Karhlton Moore, Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance, US Dept of Justice, for a discussion that explored her first-hand experience as a federal Black prosecutor.
“I’m grateful to the Ohio State Bar Foundation for providing this important forum,” said Coates. “We must continue to challenge systemic inequality and remain vigilant to ensure justice for all who participate in the system. I hope that sharing my experiences will offer insight into the challenges that we face.”
The first panel of Color of Justice featured national policy experts and explored the intersection of race and justice, how race is particularly impacted by criminal law reform proposals, and how courts can actively reduce implicit bias and other barriers to justice. This panel was moderated by Michele Worobiec, 2022 OSBF Fellow and included panelists:
The second panel, moderated by Judge Laurel Beatty Blunt, Tenth Court of Appeals for the State of Ohio, explored how Ohio courts are implementing science and best practices to reduce over-incarceration and provide access to justice for all who enter the legal system, while keeping communities safe. Panelists included:
Justice Melody Stewart, Supreme Court of Ohio
New York Times best-selling author and CNN Host and Senior Legal Analyst Laura Coates joins Karhlton Moore, Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance, US Dept of Justice for a look into Laura's first-hand experience as a black prosecutor where she quickly found "the pursuit of justice creates injustice."
New York Times best-selling author and CNN Host and Senior Legal Analyst Laura Coates
Director of Bureau of Justice Assistance, US Dept of Justice
Hear from national policy experts about topics at the intersection of race and justice, how race is particularly impacted by criminal law reform proposals, and how courts can actively reduce implicit bias and other barriers to justice.
Michele Worobiec, Founder/CEO Silta Strategy LLC, 2022 Class Fellow
Director of Criminal Law Reform Project, ACLU, New York
Senior Legal Analyst, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity
National Center for State Courts, Director of the Center for Jury Studies,
This panel will explore how Ohio Courts are implementing science and best practices to reduce over-incarceration and provide access to justice for all who enter into the legal system, while keeping communities safe.
Judge Laurel Beatty Blunt
10th District Court of Appeals
Justice Michael Donnelly
Ohio Supreme Court
Judge Nicole Sanders
Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas
Columbus City Attorney
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and Executive Director of the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center
Benjamin Franz & Andrea Salimbene
Equality Ohio Education Fund
Hollingsworth & Washington
Lynne Day Law
Marley Nelson & Sheila Buckley
Zoll & Kranz