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Groups push for more diversity on Virginia appeals court

(AP) — Advocacy groups say more diversity is needed on Virginia’s second-highest court as it adds six new judges.

The Virginian-Pilot reports that, of the Court of Appeals’ 10 current members, only three are women. Only one is a person of color. Most of the judges are former prosecutors and private attorneys.

Advocates, including the NAACP, say now is the time to add more people of color, women and lawyers with experience as public defenders or legal aid attorneys or working for public interest organizations.

They say a more diverse court will make better and fairer decisions because its judges will have different life and career experiences.

In a letter sent to Virginia bar leaders April 19, six organizations and the head of a state teachers’ union asked them to recommend “demographically and professionally diverse lawyers” to the legislative committees that recommend who the General Assembly should name to the court.

The legislature earlier this year voted to increase the number of Court of Appeals judges by six — from 11 to 17.

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