Washington Supreme Court, Position 8 — Steve Gonzalez

Steve Gonzalez (Courtesy Photo)

What are specific ways you have helped people of color and/or the immigrant community?

I hire and mentor diverse students and lawyers. I co-chaired the Race and the Criminal Justice System Task Force which made recommendations to reduce disproportionality. As a past Chair of the Washington State Access to Justice Board and a board member for many years, I am passionate about ensuring justice for all Washingtonians, including underrepresented communities like immigrants, refugees, and communities of color. While in private practice, I regularly provided pro bono legal assistance to immigrants through the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. When I was a municipal prosecutor, we did not share information with immigration authorities. As a Superior Court Judge, I was involved in passing and implementing a policy that prohibited ICE from enforcing arrest warrants at the King County Courthouse. I participate in the Northwest Minority Job Fair every year, and serve as Board member for the Washington Leadership Institute, an organization that aims to develop legal professionals and community leaders who reflect the diversity of Washington State. I am committed to being a role model on the Court for underrepresented communities. I helped develop and pass a rule to reduce implicit bias in jury selection.

What is the biggest legislative priority for communities of color and the immigrant community in the next few years? Do you think there are legislative concerns that are unique to these communities?

I am prohibited by the Canons of Judicial Conduct from answering this question as cases related to such prospective legislation may come before me.

What are specific ways that the office you seek would affect communities of color and the immigrant community, if you are elected?

We can do a great deal more to improve access to justice by simplifying forms and writing them in plain and common language, reducing or eliminating user fees, and improving our openness as a coequal branch of government. I currently serve as chair of the statewide Interpreter Commission. I am working to ensure that the state provides sufficient funding so that interpreters are available to all who need them.