By Judge Anne Levinson (ret.)
In appointing Judge Mary Yu, Governor Inslee could not have made a better choice to fill the vacancy on our state’s highest court. Judge Yu is an accomplished and first-rate trial judge with a deep record of service both on and off the bench.
Judge Yu would add much needed trial court experience to the Supreme Court, having presided over a wide range of criminal, civil, family, and juvenile cases for 14 years. She is held in great regard for her intellect, her extraordinary work ethic, and her commitment not just to access to justice, but to the application of justice. She is known for approaching each case with an open mind, treating all those who come before her with respect and fairness every time she takes the bench, and understanding that each decision she makes has a real-world impact on the lives of others.
Judge Yu has been rated Exceptionally Well Qualified by Washington Women Lawyers, the Joint Asian Judicial Evaluation Committee, the Latina/o Bar Association, the Loren Miller Bar Association, the Cardozo Society Judicial Evaluation Committee and Q-Law, GLBT Bar Association. She was selected as the 2014 Washington State Association for Justice, “Judge of the Year” and the 2013 Municipal League Foundation “Public Official of the Year”; received the 2013 Latina/o Amicus Award from Seattle University School of Law Latina/o Law Student Association; 2012 “President’s Award” from the Asian Bar Association of Washington; 2012 “Difference Makers Award” from the American Bar Association Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division; 2011 “Judge of the Year” award from the Washington State Bar Association (shared with Justice Gonzalez); 2011 Seattle Girls’ School Grace Hopper Award; 2009 Norm Maleng Award from the Washington State Bar Association; 2008 “Judge of the Year” award from the Asian Bar Association; 2008 President’s Award from Washington Women Lawyers; 2006 “Model of Excellence” Award from the Latina/o Bar Association of Washington; and the 2005 “Judge of the Year” award from the American Board of Trial Advocates.
I have had the privilege of watching Judge Yu mentor countless young attorneys, law clerks and students, serving as a superb role model for so many.
While serving as a judge, she has also taken the time to co-chair the statewide Minority and Justice Commission, lectured at Seattle University, helped lead the bar association’s leadership institute for young attorneys, served on the board of FareStart and the advisory board for the U.W’s Gates Public Service program. She has officiated hundreds of weddings and adoptions, including our state’s first same-sex weddings on the first day couples of the same-sex could legally marry in our state.
Judge Yu’s appointment breaks many glass ceilings: she will be the first woman of color, the first Asian-American, the first Latina and the first openly LGBT justice on our state’s highest court.
Her combination of intellect, experience, integrity, and civic leadership will make her an outstanding State Supreme Court Justice. I congratulate the Governor on a stellar appointment.