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For first time, Washington’s supreme court will be majority female, including chief justice

January 10th, 2013 by josh farley

On Monday, when the Washington State Supreme Court convenes for the first time this year, history will be made: a majority of the court is made up of women, including the chief justice, for the first time ever.

And it will be Bainbridge resident and longtime appellate lawyer Sheryl Gordon McCloud who tipped the scales. McCloud, who upset a competitive field last fall that included longtime King County Superior Court judge Bruce Hilyer, former state Supreme Court judge Richard Sanders, and former Pierce County prosecutor and county executive John Ladenburg, joins four other justices to put females in the majority on the court, the Washington Courts Web site pointed out Thursday.

The public is invited to the opening of the court’s 2013 session, at 9:30 a.m. Monday in the Temple of Justice in Olympia.

Here’s more from the courts’ release:

The ceremony will also mark the inaugurations of Justice Susan J. Owens and Justice Steven González, who were both elected to six-year terms, and Chief Justice Barbara Madsen, who was re-elected by her colleagues to a four-year term as Chief Justice.

The event is open to the public and will be held in the Supreme Court at the Temple of Justice in Olympia.
  • Sheryl Gordon McCloud graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1976, and graduated from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law in 1984. She clerked for Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Warren Ferguson before beginning her practice, which included extensive experience in appellate law. In 2008, the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers awarded her their highest award, the William O. Douglas Award, for “extraordinary courage” in the practice of law.

  • Steven González is the first justice of Mexican heritage to serve on the bench of the Washington State Supreme Court since the formation of the Court in 1889. González was appointed to the Court in 2012, and served on the King County Superior Court bench from 2002-2012. González earned his J.D. from the University of California at Berkley’s law school and was admitted to the Washington state bar in 1991. He graduated from Pitzer College, a member of the Claremont Colleges, with a B.A. in East Asian Studies and studied abroad in undergraduate and advanced studies in Japan and China.  From 1997 to 2002, González was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the state’s Western District. He also worked in the City of Seattle Attorney’s Office from 1996 to 1997 as a trial attorney in the domestic violence unit. Before that, he practiced business and civil law with the firm Hillis Clark Martin and Peterson from 1991 to 1996.

  • Susan J. Owens was first elected in 2000 to the Supreme Court. She joined the court after serving nineteen years as District Court Judge in Western Clallam County, where she was the County’s senior elected official with five terms. She also served as the Quileute Tribe’s Chief Judge and Chief Judge of the Lower Elwha S’Klallam Tribe.

  • Chief Justice Barbara Madsen was elected to serve a second term as the 55th Chief Justice of the Washington State Supreme Court in October. As Chief Justice, she is the court’s chief spokesperson, presides over Supreme Court hearings and conferences, and co-chairs the state’s Board for Judicial Administration. The voters elected Justice Madsen as the third woman to serve on the Washington Supreme Court in 1992, and she was re-elected in 1998, 2004, and 2010.

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