3 years ago

Judicial Diversity in France: The Unspoken and the Unspeakable

Mathilde Cohen

Abstract

Despite the importance of judicial diversity for litigants and the broader public, no previous study has examined this issue within the French judiciary. This article begins to fill this gap by using original, qualitative data that shed light on judges’, prosecutors', and other legal actors' discourses on racial, ethnic, and sexual diversity. Its main contribution is to show that these legal professionals deploy three strategies—linguistic, institutional, and geographic—to dodge or downplay the relevance of race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. The first, linguistic, form of avoidance lies in refusing to name and discuss race and ethnicity explicitly; the second, institutional, in denying that the judiciary has a diversity problem or that the problem lies within its power; and the third, geographic, consists in relegating the issue of diversity to distant places—the United States and overseas France. The article concludes by discussing key directions for future research.

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