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
  • Thursday, December 5, 2019 7:57pm
  • NewsPolitics

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

Clallam County removes ‘relic’ ordinance

Clallam County commissioners removed a 46-year-old ordinance regarding licensing… Continue reading

Clallam COVID cases trending downward as expected

Clallam County’s rate of new COVID-19 cases continues trending… Continue reading

Grant applications accepted for small businesses, nonprofits

Applications for the Working Washington Grants: Round 5 and new… Continue reading

Derek Kilmer helps Port Angeles Food Bank Executive Director Emily Dexter fill up the shelves with some crackers inside “The Market”. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)
Port Angeles Food Bank services well-used

Expanded facility aims to revert to grocery store model soon

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, second from left, tours Olympic Medical Center on Monday, hearing from hospital leadership CEO Darryl Wolfe, left of Kilmer; and, to the right, Human Resources Manager Jennifer Burkhardt and Communications Manager Bobby Beeman. (Ken Park/Peninsula Daily News)
Site-neutral ruling topic of discussion during tour

Olympic Medical Center reimbursements at issue

Julie Jaman, the 80-year-old woman at the center of a controversy around transgender access to bathrooms, speaks at a protest across from Port Townsend City Hall on Monday. Jaman was banned from the local pool after she confronted a transgender woman in the locker room, and the event has gained national attention. Jaman and her supporters were surrounded by protestors Monday evening who shouted and made noise while they tried to speak, and scuffles broke out between the two groups. (Peter Segall / Peninsula Daily News)
Transgender proclamation draws hundreds to meeting

Protesters clash outside Port Townsend City Hall

Observable sheen from oil spill shrinks

No effect seen on wildlife, Coast Guard says

A giant Pacific octopus swims in its tank at Feiro Marine Science Center at Port Angeles City Pier while fans of the creature cast ballots for a name in an online poll, which ended Thursday afternoon. Octomatic was the people’s choice with 54.1 percent of 1,123 votes cast, winning out over Olive with 39 percent, Cranberry with 3.9 percent, Toby with 2 percent and Bobbie with 0.9 percent. The octopus, which was captured in Agate Bay north of Joyce, will reside at Feiro until it reaches maturity, and then it will be released in the area of where it was found. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Octopus named

A giant Pacific octopus swims in its tank at Feiro Marine Science… Continue reading

Monkeypox vaccine coming to Clallam County

COVID-19 case rates trending downward

Most Read