TVW Update

Inside Olympia — Chief Justice Steven Gonzalez

November 4, 2021

This week host Austin Jenkins sits down for a full-hour, in-depth interview with Washington State Supreme Court Chief Justice Steven Gonzalez.

In January Gonzalez was elected by his colleagues to lead the state’s highest court — the first person of color to do so. He has emphasized a commitment to eradicate bias in the justice system.

It’s an issue the entire WA Supreme Court addressed in an open letter in June 202 following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis. In that letter, the state’s nine justices wrote, in part: “Our institutions remain affected by the vestiges of slavery: Jim Crow laws that were never dismantled and racist court decisions that were never disavowed.”

Gonzalez says the justice system needs to examine itself. He discusses two recently released reports, one on gender and justice, the other on race and justice.

He also talks about practical concerns, like juror pay and courtroom security, both of which he says are statewide issues that need solutions.

And, he says COVID has unequal impact on courts, putting some courts but not others behind schedule. But, the pandemic has silver linings as well, including an improvement in communication within the court system.

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