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First Black Woman Judge to Serve on Washington's Supreme Court

Judge G. Helen Whitener

In April 2020, Judge G. Helen Whitener became the first African American woman to be appointed to Washington state's Supreme Court. Before becoming a judge, she litigated criminal cases for 14 years as both a prosecutor and defense attorney.
Whitener is known for her commitment to justice and equity. She serves as co-chair of the Washington State Minority and Justice Commission and as a member of the Civil Legal Aid Oversight Committee. She continues to garner recognition for her work to advance the cause of justice.

In 2019, she was awarded the Washington State Bar Association’s C.Z. Smith Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award, the King County Washington Women Lawyers President Award, the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association’s Diversity Award and the Seattle University School of Law’s Woman of the Year Award.

Judge Whitener is very active locally, nationally, and internationally and speaks often on human rights, access to justice, and the rights and responsibility of the judiciary in ensuring the rights of all that appear before the court to basic dignity and respect in judicial proceedings.

Originally from Trinidad, Whitener moved to the United States as a teenager to attend college. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Baruch College in New York, and her law degree from Seattle University School of Law.