Gov­er­nor Chris Gre­goire announced today that she is appoint­ing respect­ed King Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court Judge Judge Steven González to the Supreme Court to suc­ceed Ger­ry Alexan­der, who will be retir­ing from the bench at the end of the year.

The appoint­ment, which does not require Sen­ate con­fir­ma­tion, is the sec­ond Supreme Court vacan­cy that Gre­goire has filled as governor.

(Pre­vi­ous­ly, she appoint­ed Debra Stephens in 2007. Stephens stood for a full term the next year and ulti­mate­ly ran unopposed).

“I am proud to appoint Judge González to the state’s high­est court,” Gre­goire said in a state­ment announc­ing her deci­sion. “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. His expe­ri­ence with pro­found­ly impor­tant issues, close study of the law and per­spec­tive as a tri­al court judge will make Judge González an excel­lent Supreme Court Justice.”

“It has been a great hon­or to serve on the Supe­ri­or Court for the last ten years. I thank Gov­er­nor Gre­goire for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to now serve on the State Supreme Court,” González said. “I have known and admired Jus­tice Alexan­der for twen­ty years, and it is a priv­i­lege to fol­low in his foot­steps with his colleagues.”

González has an impres­sive resume. He prac­ticed busi­ness and civ­il law with Hillis Clark Mar­tin and Peter­son for sev­er­al years after earn­ing his J.D. from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia Berke­ley Law School in 1991. His pub­lic ser­vice began in 1996 when he became a tri­al attor­ney for the City of Seattle.

Dur­ing the late 1990s, he served as an Assis­tant U.S. Attor­ney for West­ern Wash­ing­ton. While there, he was instru­men­tal in pros­e­cut­ing a very high pro­file case that read­ers are no doubt famil­iar with, Unit­ed States vs. Ressam.

In March of 2002, González was tapped by Gre­goire’s pre­de­ces­sor, Gov­er­nor Gary Locke, to serve on the Supe­ri­or Court bench in King Coun­ty. Vot­ers retained González as a judge the fol­low­ing Novem­ber, and lat­er reelect­ed him for a full term in 2004 and again in 2008. Now, at the age of forty-eight, he appears des­tined to be one of the state Supreme Court’s eight asso­ciate justices.

Chief Jus­tice Bar­bara Mad­sen wel­comed the appointment.

“Judge González is a high­ly regard­ed and expe­ri­enced tri­al court judge, a for­mer fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tor and an acknowl­edged leader in improv­ing access to jus­tice for all in Wash­ing­ton,” Maden said in response to the news. “Judge González will be an out­stand­ing addi­tion to the Supreme Court and I am con­fi­dent he will con­tin­ue to serve the pub­lic with great ener­gy and distinction.”

King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Dow Con­stan­tine echoed Maden’s sentiments.

“Judge Steven González is a dis­tin­guished jurist who is deeply knowl­edge­able, open-mind­ed, and fair,” Con­stan­tine said.

“He has served King Coun­ty excep­tion­al­ly well, ensur­ing access to jus­tice for all, while under­stand­ing the racial dis­par­i­ties that still chal­lenge our jus­tice sys­tem. I am proud that he will be serv­ing the entire state as a Supreme Court Justice.”

González has served on sev­er­al boards and task forces dur­ing his time as a judge. Present­ly, he chairs the Wash­ing­ton State Access to Jus­tice Board, and c0-chairs the Race and Crim­i­nal Jus­tice Sys­tem Task Force. He and col­league Mary Yu were recent­ly rec­og­nized by the Wash­ing­ton State Bar Asso­ci­a­tion as Out­stand­ing Judges of the Year for their efforts to strength­en equal access to justice.

González will begin serv­ing on the Supreme Court fol­low­ing the arrival of the new year, when out­go­ing Jus­tice Ger­ry Alexan­der’s retire­ment will become effec­tive. That will give him about a month and a half to pre­pare for his new duties.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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