11/16/2011: "Gov. Gregoire Appoints State Supreme Court Justice"
Gov. Chris Gregoire has appointed Judge Steven Gonzalez to the Washington State Supreme Court. Gonzalez earned his J.D. from the University of California at Berkley’s law school and was admitted to the Washington state bar in 1991.
Gonzalez graduated from Pitzer College, a member of the Claremont Colleges, with a B.A. in East Asian Studies and studied abroad in undergraduate and advanced studies in Japan and China. In May 2011 he was awarded an honorary doctorate of law from the Gonzaga University Law School, where he gave the commencement address.
“I am proud to appoint Judge Gonzalez to the state’s highest court,” Gregoire said. “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 Gonzalez an excellent Supreme Court Justice.”
"It has been a great honor to serve on the State Superior Court for the last ten years. I thank Governor Gregoire for the opportunity to now serve on the State Supreme Court,” Gonzalez said. “I have known and admired Justice Alexander for twenty years, and it is a privilege to follow in his footsteps with his colleagues on the Supreme Court."
Gov. Locke, also a Berkeley graduate, appointed Gonzalez to the King County Superior Court in March 2002 and voters elected him that fall. He was re-elected in 2004 and 2008.
From 1997 to 2002, Gonzalez was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the state’s Western District. Assigned to the major crimes division, his work included the notable case of U.S. v. Ressam, in which Ahmed Ressam was tried after being captured in Port Angeles in 1999 en route to Los Angeles, where he planned to detonate a bomb at the International Airport. Gonzalez gave the prosecution’s opening statement and examined nearly 70 witnesses. He also worked in the City of Seattle Attorney’s Office from 1996 to 1997 as a trial attorney in the domestic violence unit. Before that, he practiced business and civil law with the firm Hillis Clark Martin and Peterson from 1991 to 1996.
“Judge Gonzalez 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,” said Washington State Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Madsen. “Judge Gonzalez 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.”
Gonzalez chairs the Washington State Access to Justice Board, a position to which he was appointed by former Chief Justice Alexander. He co-chairs the Race and Criminal Justice System Task Force. From 2006 to 2010 he co-chaired the Court Security Committee for the State of Washington. The Washington State Bar Association recently presented the 2011 Outstanding Judge of the Year Award to Gonzalez, along with Judge Mary Yu, citing their work on promoting equal access to the courts, including developing helpful materials for self-represented persons.
In addition to his impressive judicial background, Gonzalez has worked in the community for the past 20 years. He served on the Board of Directors of El Centro de la Raza and on the steering committee of the Northwest Minority Job Fair. Before becoming a judge, he volunteered as a pro bono attorney for the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.
Judge Gonzalez will fill the seat of Justice Gerry Alexander, who will leave the bench at the end of this year