Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis, left, shakes hands with Gov. Jay Inslee after he introduced her as the newest member of the state Supreme Court on Wednesday in Olympia. (Elaine Thompson/The Associated Press)

Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis, left, shakes hands with Gov. Jay Inslee after he introduced her as the newest member of the state Supreme Court on Wednesday in Olympia. (Elaine Thompson/The Associated Press)

First Native American justice appointed to state Supreme Court

Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis named

By Rachel La Corte

The Associated Press

OLYMPIA — Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis was appointed to the state Supreme Court on Wednesday by Gov. Jay Inslee, who said she will be the first Native American justice to serve on the state’s highest court.

Montoya-Lewis, an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Isleta and a descendant of the Pueblo of Laguna Indian tribes of New Mexico, will be sworn in next month to fulfill the remaining year of Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst’s term, and the seat will be open for election in 2020.

Montoya-Lewis will not serve as chief justice on the nine-member court.

Justice Debra Stephens was elected by her fellow members of the court to take that top spot, and will be sworn into her new role in January.

In October, Fairhurst announced she will retire from the high court in January to focus on her health as she fights a third bout of cancer.

Montoya-Lewis, 51, was previously appointed to the Superior Court by Inslee and ran for re-election unopposed in both 2015 and 2016.

Before her appointment to the superior court, Montoya-Lewis served as the chief judge for the Nooksack and Upper Skagit Indian Tribes in Washington and worked as an associate professor for Western Washington University for more than 12 years.

She also previously served with the Lummi Nation Tribal Court, and served as a judge for the Northwest Intertribal Court System.

As Superior Court judge, she has taught classes on implicit bias throughout the state to judges, court employees and others.

The other members of the court are: Justices Barbara Madsen, Charles Johnson, Susan Owens, Steven Gonzalez, Sheryl Gordon McCloud, Charles Wiggins and Mary Yu.

Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis, wearing an eagle feather honoring her Native American heritage, smiles as she speaks with media members after being named to the state Supreme Court on Wednesday in Olympia. (Elaine Thompson/The Associated Press)

Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis, wearing an eagle feather honoring her Native American heritage, smiles as she speaks with media members after being named to the state Supreme Court on Wednesday in Olympia. (Elaine Thompson/The Associated Press)

More in News

EYE ON JEFFERSON: PUD to hear report on meter replacement

Jefferson County Public Utility District commissioners will hear an update on meter… Continue reading

EYE ON CLALLAM: County hearing on stormwater management set

The three Clallam County commissioners will conduct a public hearing on a… Continue reading

Jerren Fisher
Search underway for overdue backpacker

Have you seen this man? Tip line taking information from public

Clash over recycling service in Port Angeles

Disagreement between City of PA, Olympic Disposal

Hospital case loads rising

Three more deaths reported in Clallam County

Sean Worthington.
PUD finds new director internally

Clean Energy Act a challenge

Dave Logan/For Peninsula Daily News 
Sue and Tom Lotz of Port Angeles take what they call a “coffee break” in their small kayaks near Sail and Paddle Park on Ediz Hook on Thursday. They were enjoying the last days of nice weather before a predicted rain storm expected this weekend. The Lotzes said they were greeted by at least a dozen seals in the harbor on their leisurely excursion.
Harbor paddling

Dave Logan/For Peninsula Daily News Sue and Tom Lotz of Port Angeles… Continue reading

Most Read