New Washington Supreme Court Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis (left) reacts to applause after she was sworn in Monday in Olympia. Montoya-Lewis was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee to fill the remainder of the term of former Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst, who retired in January. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

New Washington Supreme Court Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis (left) reacts to applause after she was sworn in Monday in Olympia. Montoya-Lewis was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee to fill the remainder of the term of former Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst, who retired in January. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

New chief justice, first Native American member sworn in

A former Whatcom County Superior Court judge has joined the Washington Supreme Court.

Associated Press

OLYMPIA — The Washington Supreme Court on Monday swore in a new chief justice as well as its first Native American justice ever.

The Spokesman-Review reports Justice Debra Stephens became the court’s 57th chief justice. A former Appeals Court judge and adjunct professor of law at Gonzaga University, she called it “the greatest privilege I can imagine.”

Raquel Montoya-Lewis, a former Whatcom County Superior Court judge who is a member of the Pueblo of Isleta tribe of New Mexico, was sworn in at the same ceremony. Montoya-Lewis is the first Native American to serve on Washington’s highest court, and only the second to serve on any state supreme court in the nation. Stephens called it a historic day.

Stephens was elected chief justice by other members of the court after former Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst announced she was resigning to concentrate on fighting cancer. Gov. Jay Inslee last month named Montoya-Lewis, a Whatcom County Superior Court judge, to fill the open seat on the court.

Inslee said Monday was a day when “a daughter of Spokane ascends to chief justice,” and the court gets Lewis-Montoya, a “judicial superstar” who is a good listener, decisive, caring and compassionate.

In this Jan. 7 story, The Associated Press erroneously reported the name of the Native American tribe Raquel Montoya-Lewis is a member of. She is a member of the Pueblo of Isleta tribe of New Mexico, not Pueblo Iselta. The story has been corrected.

Talk to us

More in Northwest

Seattle City Council overrides mayor’s veto of policing cuts

“Divestment from a broken policing model … is the needed course of action,” the council president says.

Seattle cop got preferential treatment in prostitution arrest

The officer, who lives in Monroe, also serves as a commissioner for Snohomish County Fire District 7.

Couple that lost baby in fire recovering in Seattle hospital

A GoFundMe has raised $318,372 for the family as of Monday evening. About 4,500 people have donated.

Seattle police drop effort to get protest images from media

Investigators had wanted the photos to help them solve arson and theft cases.

Hanford workers put at risk by improper respirator maintenance

Risks could include exposure to chemical wastes. Contractors have taken steps to correct deficiencies.

Court to decide if electronic signatures OK for initiatives

Some have urged Secretary of State Kim Wyman to accept them, given concerns about COVID-19.

New push to retire Native team names headed to Legislature

In Oregon, schools can be forced to drop Native American mascots unless local tribes approve them.

Seattle filmmaker ‘would have been honored’ by being at Emmys

Lynn Shelton, who died in May, was nominated for directing and producing Hulu’s “Little Fires Everywhere.”

Federal police try to take control of the streets during protests, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Paula Bronstein)
Portland protests continue after pause caused by wildfires

Police said 11 people were arrested Friday night.

Most Read