Earlier this month, Governor Jay Inslee elevated Pierce County Superior Court Judge Grace Helen Whitener to the Washington Supreme Court. Whitener, who immigrated from Trinidad, is an outspoken advocate for diversity in the judicial system, and is passionate about educating marginalized communities about the ins and outs of the legal system.
Prior to her nomination, Whitener said, "I believe, as a marginalized individual—being a black gay female immigrant disabled judge—that my perspective is a little different. I try to make sure that everyone that comes into this courtroom feels welcome, feels safe, and feels like they will get a fair hearing."
"We have a limited number of judges of color on our benches here in Washington State. It’s not reflective of the population that it serves. And one core cannon of our judicial system is trust and confidence—building it on our communities. And having a judiciary that is reflective of the community that it serves is truly important in raising trust and confidence in the services that we provide as judicial officers."
Whitener joins Mary Yu, who officiated Washington state's first same sex marriages and Raquel Montoya-Lewis, who formerly served on the tribal courts. Yu is an Asian-American Latina lesbian, and Montoya-Lewis is Jewish Native American.
We here at #Gaye send our congratulations to Judge Whitener, and we wish this amazing group of women well in their quest to ensure the judicial system represents everyone fairly, not just the most privileged.