Washington Supreme Court Justice, Position 8 – Steve Gonzalez

Judicial Questionnaire

Candidate Information

  • Candidate Name: Steve Gonzalez
  • Position Sought: Washington Supreme Court Justice, Position 8 (Incumbent)
  • Home Legislative District: 22nd
  • Democrat: N/A

Campaign Information

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 rated Exceptionally Well Qualified for the Supreme Court by 10 bar associations in Washington, including Washington Women Lawyers and the newly formed Veterans’ Bar Association. I was honored to receive Outstanding Judge of the Year Awards from multiple organizations including the Washington State Bar Association.
Outside the Court, I am passionate about community engagement and service to others. I participate in the Northwest Minority Jobs Fair, and serve 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.
I served as union spokesperson and I was on the negotiating team for my union when I was an Assistant City Attorney in Seattle.
Please see more in response to the next question below, in the attached resume, and at my website: http://justicegonzalez.com/.

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.

I began my legal career practicing international business law at Hillis Clark Martin & Peterson in Seattle in 1991. After 5 years and my student loans paid off, I moved to the Seattle City Attorney’s Office, where I worked in the Domestic Violence Unit from 1996 to 1997. Next, I was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Western District of Washington from 1997 to 2002.

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?

Before I became a Judge, I served as a discovery master and mediator. I performed settlement conferences when I was a trial judge for 10 years. I can’t do that work now as a Supreme Court Justice.

4. Have you been a judge pro-tem? If so, what was that experience like? What did you learn from it?


5. What do you believe are the most important qualifications for a judge or justice?

A judge needs courage, integrity, compassion and a good work ethic. My experiences as a lawyer and in life – especially my years as a trial court judge, as a prosecutor in federal and local courts, and as a business attorney – make me particularly qualified to understand the range of issues in front of the Supreme Court.

6. What prompted you to run for this office? What priorities are you seeking to address with your campaign?

I love the job and it is an honor to serve. I want to continue to serve as a Supreme Court Justice because I bring valuable superior court trial experience and experience working with interpreters and the Access to Justice community. I also bring administration experience as former Chair of the Access to Justice Board. I am rated Exceptionally Well Qualified for the job. Finally, I enjoy mentoring my law clerks and speaking to students and the public about the importance of civics and service.

7. What steps are you taking to run a successful campaign?

In a short time, I have received a tremendous amount of support around the state. We have volunteer groups in the Seattle, Olympia, Vancouver, Yakima, Tri-Cities, and Spokane areas planning events and conducting outreach. The voters have responded very positively to my long experience and the contrast between my qualifications and those of my opponent. In 2012, our team raised the most ever in a Washington State judicial primary, and we are on track to exceed those numbers.


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?


2. Do you have any thoughts on how our courts should address the growing use of smartphones during court proceedings, particularly by jurors?

Jurors should not have phones during proceedings.

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?

Yes. Our courts should be funded by the general fund. Justice is a responsibility we all share.


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?

As a past Chair of the WA State Access to Justice Board and a board member for many years, I am passionate about ensuring justice for ALL Washingtonians. We could do a great deal more to improve access to justice by simplifying forms and writing them in plain and common language, reducing or eliminating user fees, ensuring that interpreters are available when needed and improving our openness as a coequal branch of government.

2. What does the phrase Black Lives Matter mean to you as a judicial candidate?

We have a long way to go to keep the promise of this nation that we are all equal before the law. All of us have an obligation to eliminate bias because Black Lives Matter and our jurisprudence must show it.

3. What ideas can you offer to make our judicial system more open, transparent, and responsive?

We need to ensure that user fees do not keep our least disadvantaged from accessing the courts. We need to issue our opinions faster. Finally, we could better utilize technology and allow electronic filing of forms. I am pleased with the strides we made already, but there is much work still to do.


By typing my name below, I declare under penalty of perjury the foregoing is true and correct.

Printed Name: Steve Gonzalez

Date: 03/23/2018

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