Judges play a critical role in enhancing equal access to justice. As a Judge, I have had the opportunity to rethink many of the biases baked into our criminal justice system. For example, during COVID, my colleagues and I have worked with our staff to provide virtual hearings so people who can not make it physically to court can appear via WebEx. This change has required us to rethink the bias in our system that expects individuals to appear in person for all of their hearings. We have also had to allow folks to appear via phone when they don’t have the technology to allow them to appear by video, and to allow interpreters to appear remotely to ensure their safety during the pandemic. All of these changes have allowed for greater access to justice for all participants, but they have not necessarily made courts more efficient. The reality that new technologies do not necessarily result in higher efficiency has also required a shift in our thinking and procedures.
One other way to improve access to the judicial system is to provide funding for the programs we require defendants to engage in. I am proud to have spent my career working on Domestic Violence (DV) intervention, where cost-free access to services is particularly crucial. Unlike chemical dependency and mental health treatments, DV intervention is not covered by health insurance. This too is a form of bias. As a result, the cost of treatment falls largely on the offender who has committed intimate partner violence, their family members, and those survivors who stay with their partners. That’s why I wrote the Op-Ed, “Help Heal Families: Fund Domestic Violence Intervention Programs,” The Seattle Times, October 28, 2021, pg. 14. In my article, I urge the state legislature to pay for the costs of domestic violence treatment so offenders and their families don’t feel the burden of the intervention and can better engage in treatment.
My thanks to King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove for inviting me to last night's Progreso Para Los Niños Gala at Club Sur. It was a wonderful event featuring Dr. Iván Durán, Highline Public Schools Superintendent. I had the honor of meeting some of the many people who support Para Los... Niños including Executive Director Virginia Herrera-Páramo. https://plnwa.org
Thank you, WA State Coalition of African Community Leaders, for sponsoring today's "Ain’t No Party like a WSCACL Ballot Party" at Rainier Beach Community Center. It was great to meet your wonderful members and guests, and have the opportunity to learn more about the issues you are... most concerned about. Thank you also to WSCACL Exec. Director Martha Lucas for inviting me!
I had a great time tonight meeting folks at the Fighting for the Majority event on Capitol Hill, including Washington State Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos (37th LD); Dr. Gabriela Chavarrio, the new Exec. Director of the Burke Museum; and Seattle legend Marsha Botzer.
Friday night I had a wonderful time at a campaign event held by my dear friend Holly Hill, a retired King County Superior Court Judge. I greeted old friends such as retired judges Mariane and Michael Spearman; and met some new ones, including Safa Abdo Kanaan, her husband Sami, and their son Kyan.... I so appreciate Kyan's patience during our "photo shoot!" Thank you, so much, Holly!