Steve González was appointed to the Washington State Supreme Court effective January 1, 2012, and subsequently won a contested race for a six-year term. Before joining the Supreme Court, Justice González served for ten years as a trial judge on the King County Superior Court hearing criminal, civil, juvenile, and family law cases.
Prior to his election to the King County Superior Court, Justice González practiced both criminal and civil law. He was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Western District of Washington, a Domestic Violence Prosecutor for the City of Seattle and in private practice at a Seattle law firm.
As an Assistant United States Attorney, Justice González was part of the team that successfully prosecuted the international terrorism case U.S. v. Ressam, for which he received two Department of Justice awards: the U.S. Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service and the Director’s Award for Superior Performance. He also prosecuted organized crime cases and served as the Hate Crimes Prosecution Coordinator. After September 11, he lectured on international terrorism prosecution to U.S. Attorneys in Washington D.C.
While working in private practice, Justice González gained significant civil and business law experience, including acquisitions, mergers, land use, intellectual property, commercial litigation, and contract negotiation. He regularly provided pro bono representation to people who could not afford to pay for a lawyer. Justice González continues to be a frequent lecturer at continuing legal education seminars.
Justice González has received numerous awards throughout his career, including the "2012 Difference Makers Award" from the American Bar Association’s Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division and "Judge of the Year" awards from the Washington State Bar Association, the Washington Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates, and the Asian Bar Association of Washington in 2011. He also received the Exceptional Member Award from the Latina/o Bar Association of Washington in 2011 and the Vanguard Award from the King County Chapter of Washington Women Lawyers in 2009.
Justice González is passionate about providing open access to the justice system for all. He was appointed by the Supreme Court to the Washington State Access to Justice Board and served on the Board for seven years, including the last two years as its Chair. He currently chairs the Interpreter Commission and the Court’s Security and Technology Committees. Justice González also mentors students, regularly participates in the Northwest Minority Job Fair, and serves as a Board member for the Washington Leadership Institute, a program that aims to develop Bar and community leaders who reflect the diversity of Washington State.
Justice González earned his B.A. with Honors in East Asian Studies from Pitzer College and his J.D. from U.C. Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) where he was the Technical Editor of the La Raza Law Journal. As a part of his undergraduate degree, Justice González studied at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan and at Nanjing University in China. Before law school, he did graduate work in Economics at Hokkaido University on a scholarship from Rotary International. He received Honorary Doctor of Laws Degrees from Gonzaga University School of Law in 2011 and the University of Puget Sound in 2015.
Justice González speaks Japanese, Spanish and some Mandarin Chinese. He lives in Seattle with his wife, Michelle, who teaches at the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, and their two sons.