Judge Steven Gonzalez has been appointed to Washington state’s highest court.
Governor Chris Gregoire appointed the King County Superior Court judge this week to serve on the State Supreme Court, becoming only the second Latino justice to serve on Washington state’s high court.
The half-Mexican Gonzalez will replace Justice Gerry Alexander, who will retire at the end of the year due to mandatory retirement laws.
“He is a legal scholar with deep experience in court, both on the bench as a Superior Court judge and as an Assistant U. S. Attorney and Assistant City Attorney prosecuting cases of international terrorism, child prostitution and hate crimes,” said Gregoire during the announcement. “His experience with profoundly important issues, close study of the law and perspective as a trial court judge will make Judge Gonzalez an excellent Supreme Court Justice.”
Charles Z. Smith—an African-American of Cuban descent—was the state’s first ethnic minority on the court. He was appointed in 1988 and served until 2002 when he reached the state’s mandatory retirement age of 75.
Gonzalez’s appointment to the state’s highest court was lauded by leaders in the Latino community.
“It gives our community a lot of hope,” Estela Ortega, executive director of Seattle Latino group El Centro De La Raza told The Seattle Times. “Our young kids who are coming up who can see a role model like Steve Gonzalez.”
“I don’t think that anyone can deny that Judge Gonzalez brings a unique background, a unique perspective to our Washington state Supreme Court,” said Governor Gregoire.
Gonzalez was appointed to the King County Superior Court in March 2002 and was elected by voters later that same year. He was re-elected in 2004 and 2008.
Prior to his time on the court, he served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the state’s western district and a trial attorney in the domestic violence unit for the City of Seattle.
Gonzalez received his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley‘s law school.
His term on the court begins in January, and he’ll have to run for election in November.