Chief Justice Steve Gonzalez is a father and husband with a long and distinguished career serving the people of the State of Washington. He won election to the Washington Supreme Court overwhelmingly in 2012 and 2018. Since his election, he has been widely recognized for his commitment to the laws and Constitution of our state, and open access to the justice system. His colleagues on the Supreme Court elected him to be Chief Justice beginning in 2021. He is the first Chief Justice of color in our state. He has given lectures across the country about legal reforms in Washington. He chairs the Board for Judicial Administration for the State of Washington and Co-Chairs the Washington State Interbranch Advisory Committee among many other committee assignments. Before joining the Supreme Court, Justice Gonzalez served for ten years as a trial judge on the King County Superior Court, and served as a federal and municipal criminal prosecutor. He started his legal career at a prominent law firm in Seattle.
Outside the Court, Justice Gonzalez is just as passionate about community engagement and service to others. He participates in the Northwest Minority Job Fair, and serves 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.
Prior to joining the court in King County, Justice Gonzalez practiced both criminal and civil law. He was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Western District of Washington, where he was part of the team that successfully prosecuted the international terrorism case U.S. v. Ressam. He also prosecuted organized crime cases and served as the Hate Crimes Prosecution Coordinator. After September 11, he lectured on international terrorism prosecution to U.S. Attorneys in Washington D.C.
Justice Gonzalez has also served as a Domestic Violence Prosecutor for the City of Seattle, and an Associate in the Business Law Department at the Seattle law firm Hillis Clark Martin & Peterson. While working in private practice, he regularly provided pro bono representation to people who could not afford to pay for a lawyer. Justice Gonzalez continues to be a frequent lecturer at continuing legal education seminars, and taught State Constitutional Law at Gonzaga Law School in April 2018. He earned his B.A. with Honors in East Asian Studies from Pitzer College and his J.D. from U.C. Berkeley School of Law.
Justice Gonzalez is rated Exceptionally Well Qualified for the Supreme Court by 10 bar associations in Washington, including Washington Women Lawyers and the Veterans Bar Association. He was honored to receive Outstanding Judge of the Year Awards from multiple organizations including the Washington State Bar Association. He has received broad bipartisan support from hundreds of endorsers from across Washington State.