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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 23 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 21
Mary Yu sworn in as Associate Justice in Washington State Supreme Court
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Mary Yu sworn in as Associate Justice in Washington State Supreme Court

by Tim Moffett - SGN Staff Writer

Mary Yu was sworn in as the newest member of the Washington state Supreme Court on Tuesday, marking the first time the high court has had an openly Lesbian justice. The former King County Superior Court Judge was sworn in by Chief Justice Barbara Madsen following a symposium on juvenile justice that was presented at the Temple of Justice by the Washington State Minority & Justice Commission, of which Yu has been a co-chair.

Yu was appointed by Governor Jay Inslee earlier this month. She replaces Justice James Johnson, who announced his retirement last month because of health issues.

Governor Inslee said, in a written statement issued following the swearing-in ceremony, that Yu 'will serve on our highest court with the same exceptional standards and unyielding sense of justice that have guided her throughout her life.'

Yu boasts 14 years of trial court experience over a wide range of criminal, civil, family and juvenile cases. She has also lectured at Seattle University, served on the Board of Advisers of the Leadership Institute of the Washington State Bar Association, served on the Board of Directors of FareStart, an organization devoted to assisting homeless individuals develop job skills in the culinary industry, served on the State of Washington Minority and Justice Commission, and served on the Board of Directors, Future of the Law Institute, King County Bar Association, an organized effort to mentor young people from diverse backgrounds to consider the legal profession as a career.

Among a list of accolades, Yu was recognized as 'Judge of the Year' by the Washington State Association for Justice and as 'Public Official of the Year' by the Municipal League Foundation. Additionally, she has received President's Awards from both the Asian Bar Association as well as Washington Women Lawyers. Yu is widely known for volunteering to officiate the vows of the first same-sex marriage in Washington, moments after the state's marriage equality law went into effect. Her appointment will make her the first openly LGBT, first Asian-American, first Latina and first woman of color to serve on the state's highest court.

'It means everything,' Yu said following the event, noting that it was a good experience for the young attendees at the symposium to witness her taking her oath. 'This is just a symbol for those young people on the panel. They can come here, too, and they could be a justice some day on this court.'

As a superior court judge, when the state's first Gay marriages started taking place around the state on December 9, 2012, she officiated over the first King County marriage just after midnight.

Washington State law requires that Yu must win election to the state's highest court in November 2014 in order to retain her seat for the remainder of Justice Johnson's term, which ends in January 2017.

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, the nation's largest funding resource for openly LGBT individuals in politics, has endorsed Mary Yu for Washington State Supreme Court Justice.

'Mary Yu's appointment shattered many glass ceilings,' said Chuck Wolfe, President and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. 'Her experience and judicial knowledge make her the most deserving of a seat on the bench, and we are proud to endorse her campaign.'

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