- Candidate Name: G. Helen Whitener
- Position Sought: Supreme Court Pos #6 (Incumbent)
- Home Legislative District: 28
- Democrat: Non-Partisian Judicial Candidate
- Manager or Point of Contact: Lynn Rainey
- Phone: +1253-222-3673
- Address: PO. Box 23037, Seattle, WA 98102
- Website: www.keepwhitenerforjustice.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Facebook: Justice G. Helen Whitener
Part I – Candidate Background
1. Please briefly describe your qualifications, education, employment, community and civic activity, union affiliation, prior political activity, and other relevant experience.
I am a graduate of Seattle University School of Law. I am a former Pierce County Superior Court Judge, a former Judge on the Washington State Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, and a former Pro-Tem Judge in Pierce County District Court as well as the City of Tacoma Municipal Court. I also previously worked as a Prosecuting and Defense Attorney. I am a faculty member at Washington Courts where I teach new judicial officers and I also teach a “Street Law” civics class to high school seniors at Lincoln High School in Tacoma.
In 2019, I was the recipient of the WA State Bar Association’s APEX Award; the King County Washington Women Lawyers President Award; the Seattle University School of Law, Woman of the Year Award and the Tacoma Pierce County Diversity Award in 2018, I received the Pierce County Washington Women Lawyer’s Woman of the Year Award. In 2016, I received the Joint Base Lewis McChord Law Enforcement Recognition Award, from the 420 Military Police Brigade
2. What law firms or public law offices (i.e. King County Prosecutor’s Office) have you worked for? Have you served as a prosecutor or a public defender? Please include dates, and title for each position that you have held, as well as areas of law practiced.
Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals Judge: Sep 2013-Jan 2015
Law Firm of Whitener Rainey Writt PS. Feb 2005 – Sep. 2013
Pierce County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney: Aug 2003-Feb 2005
Pierce County Department of Assigned Counsel: Mar 2001-Aug 2003
Island County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney: Feb 2000-Mar 2001
Assistant City of Olympia Prosecutor (temporary hire): Aug-Oct 1999
3. Have you ever served as a mediator or arbitrator? (If so, please describe your experiences.) If you are an incumbent, do you perform settlement conferences?
As a Pierce County Superior Court Judge I performed many settlement conferences.
4. Have you been a judge pro-tem? If so, what was that experience like? What did you learn from it?
I am a former Judge Pro Tem for Pierce County District Court and the City of Tacoma Municipal Court from 2005 to 2013 when I managed my private law firm. I learned to always be prepared, be prompt, be respectful, and listen with an open mind and to make timely and well- reasoned decisions.
5. What do you believe are the most important qualifications for a judge or justice?
I believe the most important qualifications are the same for both positions, that is the ability to listen, to be impartial and to make well-reasoned decisions based on the rule of law.
6. What prompted you to run for this office? What priorities are you seeking to address with your campaign?
To retain the seat to which I was appointed on April 13, 2020
My priorities entail:
• Ensuring equitable and respectful treatment of all who appear before our courts
• To Educate the public about the third branch of government through my extra-judicial activities
• Protecting access to our courts and access to justice for all citizens and to
• Respect the rule of law
7. What steps are you taking to run a successful campaign?
I have assembled a campaign management team to utilize social media, the internet, and email to reach out to the largest quantity of WA voters.
Part II – Position-specific
1. Do you support making it easier for Washingtonians who are not members of the bar to access public records, particularly at the Superior/District court levels, where per-page fees are charged?
Under the judicial canons, I am unable to discuss opinions about issues that may come before the court. These issues have and are likely to continue to come before the Supreme Court.
However, please review my record prior to joining the Supreme Court in regards to Public Disclosure cases that were covered by the media. Please see: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/judges-ruling-on-records-favor-ex-tacoma-officer/ and https://www.kiro7.com/news/local/judge-orders-tacoma-to-pay-297-000-for-records-violations/779250563/
2. Do you have any thoughts on how our courts should address the growing use of smartphones during court proceedings, particularly by jurors?
I encourage the use of technology in our courts. Technology is one area that has allowed the legislature and the judiciary to address disproportionalities embedded in our current system.
3. Is Washington relying too much on court fees to cover the cost of operating our judicial system? How do you believe our courts should be funded?
Under the judicial canons, I am unable to discuss opinions about issues that may come before the court. These issues have and are likely to continue to come before this court. However, I am co-chair of the Washington State Minority and Justice Commission and I am a judicial member on the Advisory Council for the Office of Civil Legal Aid (OCLA). Both entities try to address and identify barriers. The Commission’s work has been at the forefront of changes to how the court addresses legal/financial obligations (LFOs). In 2019 Pierce County Superior Court held its LFO reconsideration day that was helpful in addressing the baggage of LFOs.
Part III – Access to Justice
1. If elected, how will you work to improve access to justice, particularly for communities and constituencies that do not understand the American legal system?
I am co-chair of the Washington State Minority and Justice Commission. I serve on the Office of Civil Legal Aid Oversight Committee (OCLA) and I am a former chair and co-chair of the Washington State Superior Court Judges’ Association (SCJA) – Equity and Fairness Committee. I am a judicial member of the Advisory Council for the QLaw Association of Washington and also a judicial member of the Washington Women Lawyers. In 2016 I did a TedxPOS Talk titled “Claiming your identity by understanding your self-worth” where I discussed different labels of disenfranchisement that are used to limit a person’s potential. I am very active locally, nationally, and internationally and speak 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.
Please see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57FMau29O_g
2. What does the phrase Black Lives Matter mean to you as a judicial candidate?
Under the judicial canons, I am unable to discuss opinions about issues that may come before the court. These issues have and are likely to continue to come before the Supreme Court. However, please review my record prior to joining the Supreme Court. www.justicehelenwhitener.com
3. What ideas can you offer to make our judicial system more open, transparent, and responsive?
My entire judicial career has been about making the judiciary reflective of the people it serves. Building trust and confidence requires transparency and accountability which is why I created my own website. I have documented my extra-judicial work since joining the bench in 2015. Please visit her website at www.justicehelenwhitener.com.
By typing my name below, I declare under penalty of perjury the foregoing is true and correct.
Printed Name: G. Helen Whitener