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Judge JaPaul Harris
Judge JaPaul Harris

2019 Diversity & Inclusion: Judge JaPaul Harris

District Court Judge JaPaul Harris, even in his rise to the bench, has never forgotten the importance of working on behalf of a system that provides resources for all, regardless of background.

For starters, he is a commanding voice on the Minnesota Judicial Council’s Committee for Equality and Justice, whose mission is to eliminate bias from court operations, promote equal access to the courts, and inspire a high level of trust and confidence in the Minnesota Judicial Branch.

“Both on the bench and in the legal community in general, those issues have only grown in prevalence,” he said. “Acceptance and buy-in has kept increasing.”

Among other efforts, Harris helped bring to Minnesota the annual conference of the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts last year. He has also worked overtime to push forward Hennepin County’s Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative, which has sought to reduce the time that teens spend in jail.

But by no means does any of that mean Harris sees the work of diversity and inclusion in the justice system as anywhere near over.

“I remember when things like implicit bias were never even addressed,” he recalled. “Now it’s routine to provide training on things like that.

“But we need to keep it as a priority inside the system. Having people of color getting appointed to the bench and advancing in their firms has a huge impact all through the legal industry.”

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