In her 8 ½ years as Chief Justice, the Hon. Chase T. Rogers has made
it her mission to ensure that the Judicial Branch’s doors are wide open to
all people. To fulfill this mission she formed the Public Service and Trust
Commission with numerous committees to address a multitude of issues
including cultural competency.
In October, the Judicial Branch opened its Diversity Week 2015 celebration at the Legislative Office Building with a spectrum of speakers that discussed issues such as Bilingual Professionals: Asset or Liability, Understanding Transgender Identities, Men and Masculinities: The Dynamics of Gender, Culture and Diversity, I Don’t See Color and Other Paradoxes of Difference, Perspectives on OIF/OEF Veterans in the Justice System and Sikhism—the 5th Largest Religion in the World.
Judicial Branch personnel from around the state attended the half-day session of which Chief Justice Rogers said, “I understand there was a huge demand to attend this program and that the seats filled up quickly. This type of participation is evidence to me that we have made progress in the area of cultural competency. However, as we all know, there is more work to be done, and your agenda provides a good road map of topics that should be discussed.” Remarks by Chief Justice - PDF
To kick off the event, the Advisory Committee on Cultural Competency invited National Public Radio’s Vice President for Diversity in News and Operations, Keith Woods, to address the gathering. Speech by Keith Woods - PDF
After a brief introduction by Supreme Court Justice Richard A. Robinson, who is Chair of the Advisory Committee on Cultural Competency, Woods, after telling of a poignant, anecdotal meeting with a stranger, said, “One hope in talking to you today is that you come away with a grander vision of diversity; one that sees difference on the surface, yes, but also sees it at its deepest; a definition that springs from the belief that we truly are greater because of our great variety, if only we can seize it and make the most of it. This is diversity not as a problem, but opportunity; not as trouble, but strength.”
Woods continued that thought, “This definition requires that you open up to see the whole of someone; to want to know more; to assume the existence of traits, experiences, talents and ideas that may match or exceed your own; to be willing to find yourself in someone else’s story; to gain the vision that allows you to see our common humanity. This definition demands that you strip away the biases or stereotypes that blind you.”
More than 250 Judicial Branch personnel attended the event, which was followed by a week of workshops throughout the state.
The Connecticut Judicial Branch is committed to educating, enlightening and informing its personnel about the differing prisms each of us brings to our world and how we interpret it. Consequently, the Public Service and Trust Commission’s Advisory Committee on Cultural Competency organizes a Diversity Week each year so that it can bring in experts to discuss the many different issues that confront us each day.
Each Judicial Branch employee has a unique opportunity to promote public trust and confidence through his/her interaction with individuals who use Judicial Branch services. Our increased efforts to understand and respond to the needs of all of the communities we serve, including those that are culturally and linguistically diverse, will improve communications and ensure access to justice.