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Grace Helen Whitener Becomes 1st Black Gay Disabled Immigrant Justice to Serve on Washington State Supreme Court
Washington State Supreme Court Justice Grace Helen Whitener (photo via them.us)

Washington Governor Jay Inslee appointed Judge Grace Helen Whitener to the Washington State Supreme Court this April.

Whitener, who is originally from Trinidad, gay, and has a disability, also became Washington’s first black immigrant state justice. To quote her:

Being a black, gay, female, immigrant, disabled judge … my perspective is a little different.

According to Gov. Inslee’s Medium page, Whitener has been a judicial officer since 2013. From 2013 to 2015, she served as a judge on the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals.

Inslee then appointed her to the Pierce County Superior Court in 2015, where she has worked as a judge for over five years, retaining her seat in a 2015 election and winning re-election to a full term in 2016. Before becoming a judge, Whitener litigated criminal cases for 14 years as both a prosecutor and defense attorney.

“I think my background is so diverse and so varied that I represent just about every type of individual that could possibly come before the court,” Whitener said in Washington’s Daily Record News upon her appointment to the bench.

“As far as equity and inclusion, it does not matter where you are, or who you’re dealing with. What we are to be concerned about is the impact our actions have on others and that has always been my focus and I hope I can continue doing that.”

Whitener is known for her commitment to justice and equity. She serves as co-chair of the Washington State Minority and Justice Commission and as a member of the Civil Legal Aid Oversight Committee.

Last year, Whitener was awarded the Washington State Bar Association’s C.Z. Smith Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award, the King County Washington Women Lawyers President Award, the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association’s Diversity Award and the Seattle University School of Law’s Woman of the Year Award.

“Judge Whitener inspires lawyers and non-lawyers alike with her relentless work to raise awareness for matters of race, justice and equity,” Inslee said. “She is tireless in her commitment to building a justice system that works for all, and as a Supreme Court justice, she will have an even greater platform to promote justice for everyone in Washington state. I am very pleased to appoint her to this bench and I look forward to her many contributions to our state for years to come.”

Whitener is originally from Trinidad and moved to the United States as a teenager to attend college. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Baruch College in New York and her law degree from Seattle University School of Law.

To read more: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/04/grace-helen-whitener-washington-supreme-court.html

Original article source: https://goodblacknews.org/2020/05/02/grace-helen-whitener-becomes-1st-black-gay-disabled-immigrant-justice-to-serve-on-washington-state-supreme-court/ | Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council

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