Today, the People’s Parity Project released a report assessing the impact of judges’ professional backgrounds on outcomes in eviction cases, finding statistically significant differences in average renter outcomes depending on judges’ legal experience. Additionally, the backgrounds most favorable to renters were those most underrepresented on the Connecticut bench.
Renters appearing before former general practice, legal aid, Attorney General’s office, and plaintiffs’ litigation attorneys were significantly more likely to have less harmful outcomes to their cases, such as dismissals or non-final stays. On average, renters appearing before former corporate attorneys or prosecutors had significantly worse outcomes and were more likely to be evicted.
PPP’s 2023 report on the lack of professional diversity on the Connecticut bench revealed that the backgrounds leading to the worst outcomes for renters are the very ones most overrepresented among current state judges, while pro-people backgrounds like legal aid and plaintiffs’ litigation are significantly underrepresented. Given the influence of judges’ professional background on the outcomes of eviction cases, the current dominance of prosecutors and corporate attorneys on the state bench amounts to a structural disadvantage for individuals facing the loss of their homes.
In order to ensure fairness for renters in housing proceedings, the Connecticut state government needs to make a serious commitment to diversifying its judicial bench. This commitment requires that the Governor prioritize outreach to pro-people prospective judges and the selection of nominees with experience working for people rather than powerful interests like corporations or the state, as well as increased transparency in the judicial selection process.
Steve Kennedy, People’s Parity Project’s Organizing and Network Director, issued the following statement: “Especially given Connecticut’s current housing crisis and increased organizing to protect renters, it is essential that we address the problem from every angle. So long as our courts are stacked in favor of landlords, simply by the makeup of our judiciary, ordinary people will continue to struggle to obtain justice. Every study that has looked at the impact of judges’ professional backgrounds on the people appearing before them has shown that former prosecutors and corporate attorneys side more often with the powerful corporate and/or state interests that they used to represent. To continue to overfill our courts with these very same judges is a policy decision to disfavor working people, renters, and marginalized groups. The people of Connecticut need judges who will protect their rights, and what we are seeing is that one of the surest ways to find them is to appoint more judges who have spent their careers protecting those same rights.”