Justice G. Helen Whitener was appointed to the Washington State Supreme Court in April 2020 and she was elected by the voters to retain her position on the State Supreme Court in November 2020. Prior to her appointment to Washington State’s highest court, Justice Whitener served as a Pierce County Superior Court judge. Justice Whitener also served as a judge on the Washington State Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals and as a pro-tem judge in Pierce County District Court and the City of Tacoma Municipal Court. Before becoming a judge, Justice Whitener litigated both civil and criminal cases for 14 years as first a prosecutor and defense attorney and later as a managing partner of the law firm of Whitener Rainey Writt PS. Justice Whitener is well recognized by the legal community for her commitment to justice and equity. In January 2021, Justice Whitener received the Western Region of the National Black Law Students Association Judge of the Year Award. The 400 Years of African American History Commission has also honored Justice Whitener, naming her a 2020 Distinguished 400 Awardee. Justice Whitener is the Appellate Court Representative to the Washington Supreme Court Interpreter Commission, and she is the former co-chair of the Washington State Minority and Justice Commission. Justice Whitener serves on the Board of Directors of the International Association of LGBT Judges as well as on the Washington State Office of Civil Legal Aid Oversight Committee. Additionally, Justice Whitener is a member of the International Association of Women Judges, the National Association of Women Judges, and the American Judges Association. She is also a former chair and co-chair of the Washington State Superior Court Judges’ Association–Equity and Fairness Committee. Justice Whitener is a judicial member of Washington Women Lawyers and is a judicial member of the Advisory Council for the QLaw Association of Washington. Justice Whitener is the first Black woman to serve on the Washington Supreme Court, the fourth immigrant-born Justice and the first Black LGBT judge in the State of Washington. Justice Whitener is often invited to speak to organizations locally, nationally, and internationally on human rights, access to justice, and the responsibility of the judiciary to ensure the right of all who appear before the court to basic dignity and respect in judicial proceedings.
A Conversation with Groundbreaking LGBTQ+ Supreme Court Justices