OLYMPIA, Wash. — Gov. Jay Inslee named Judge G. Helen Whitener to fill the seat vacated by Justice Charles Wiggins, who retired last month after 10 years on the Washington State Supreme Court.
Whitener has been on the Pierce County Superior Court since 2015, when she was appointed by Inslee. She was elected to her seat in 2015, and then re-elected in 2016.
Before becoming a judge, she was a criminal litigator for 14 years, as both a prosecutor and defense attorney.
Whitener is originally from Trinidad and moved to the United States as a teenager to attend college. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Baruch College in New York and her law degree from Seattle University School of Law.
She serves as co-chair of the Washington State Minority and Justice Commission and as a member of the Civil Legal Aid Oversight Committee.
Last year, Whitener was awarded the Washington State Bar Association’s C.Z. Smith Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award, the King County Washington Women Lawyers President Award, the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association’s Diversity Award and the Seattle University School of Law’s Woman of the Year Award.
Whitener joins Chief Justice Debra L. Stephens, Associate Chief Justice Charles W. Johnson and justices Barbara Madsen, Susan Owens, Steven C. González, Sheryl Gordon McCloud, Mary I. Yu and Raquel Montoya-Lewis on the bench.
Supreme Court Justices are elected by voters to six-year terms. Wiggins was re-elected in 2016, and had two more years on his term.