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State Supreme Court justice to speak at MLK Day event
Newly appointed State Supreme Court Justice Steven Gonzalez will speak at this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King commemorative service, an event that will be held on King’s birth date, Sunday, Jan. 15, at 7 p.m. at the Vashon Presbyterian Church.
Gov. Chris Gregoire appointed Gonzalez, a former King County Superior judge, to the state’s highest bench in November; he replaces Justice Gerry Alexander, who had to step down because of the state’s mandatory retirement law.
Before becoming a Superior Court judge, Gonzalez worked as an assistant U.S. Attorney, where he prosecuted several high-profile cases, including the case against Ahmed Ressam, a man captured in Port Angeles en route to Los Angeles, where he planned to detonate a bomb.
He also worked as a city attorney for Seattle, where he prosecuted cases in the city’s domestic violence unit. He is the second ethnic minority to serve on the state Supreme Court.
Emma Amiad, a real estate agent and civic activist who has organized the King service for 23 years, said she’s thrilled that Gonzalez will be this year’s speaker. His service on the state Supreme Court began Jan. 1, she noted, adding, “We will be one of the first communities in the state to hear him speak after he takes his seat on the court.”
Gonzalez will be introduced by King County Superior Judge Mary Yu, last year’s speaker at the King service and a Vashon resident. Both judges, Amiad said, are deeply involved in work to correct racial disparities in access to justice in the criminal justice system.
The annual MLK event, a tradition on the Island, will include music by a quartet made up of Joe Farmer, Kathleen Rindge, Dan Brown and Jean Richstad, who will perform some of King’s favorite spirituals. Amiad will share some of King’s words. A goodwill offering for the Interfaith Council to Prevent Homelessness will take place.