OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Steven Gonzalez was sworn in Monday as the newest member of the Washington state Supreme Court.

He was appointed in November by Gov. Chris Gregoire to replace Justice Gerry Alexander, who retired at the end of last year after reaching the state’s mandatory retirement age of 75. Gonzalez will have to run for election in November.

Gonzalez comes to the high court from King County Superior Court, where he was appointed in March 2002 and elected by voters later that same year. He was re-elected in 2004 and 2008.

Prior to his time on the court, he was an assistant U.S. attorney in the state’s western district, during which time he helped prosecute Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian national who later was convicted on multiple counts for plotting to bomb Los Angeles International Airport. Custom agents found explosives in the trunk of his car in Port Angeles when he drove off a ferry from Canada.

From 1996 to 1997, Gonzalez worked as a trial attorney in the domestic violence unit for the City of Seattle.

Gonzalez serves as the chairman of the Washington State Access to Justice Board and also is a co-chairman of the Race and Criminal Justice System Task Force.

Gonzalez is only the second justice of Hispanic heritage to serve on the state Supreme Court. Charles Z. Smith, the state’s first ethnic minority on the court, was appointed in 1988 and served until 2002 when he stepped down after reaching the state’s mandatory retirement age of 75. Smith is an African-American of Cuban descent.

— Copyright 2012 The Associated Press


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