Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis is the first Native American Justice to serve on the Washington State Supreme Court, and the second Native American to serve on a state supreme court nationwide.
A graduate of University of New Mexico and the University of Washington School of Law, Justice Montoya-Lewis has spent her career as a practicing attorney, tribal court judge, superior court judge, associate professor, and advocate for juvenile justice reform, equity, and tribal communities.
Justice Montoya-Lewis previously served as Chief Judge for the Lummi, Nooksack, and Upper Skagit tribes, giving her a comprehensive understanding of issues affecting Native Americans and indigenous people in Washington state. She has served as a trial court judge and as an appellate judge for tribes throughout the Pacific Northwest.
In 2014, Justice Montoya-Lewis was appointed by Governor Jay Inslee to serve on the Whatcom Superior Court, where she served for five years, winning election and re-election. Justice Montoya-Lewis oversaw criminal and civil cases while on the Whatcom Superior Court, including cases involving child welfare, family law, civil jury and bench trials, and felony criminal cases.
Justice Montoya-Lewis has an expert, scholarly understanding of the law, having worked as an Associate Professor at Western Washington University’s Fairhaven College, where she both taught and conducted research. Justice Montoya-Lewis’ research focused on issues ranging from juvenile justice to tribal courts.
An unyielding advocate for children and youth, Justice Montoya-Lewis has been recognized locally and nationally for her work on juvenile justice reform. In 2018, the Brigid Collins Family Support Center awarded her the Children’s Advocacy Center Community Leadership Award, and in 2015, she was awarded the Dean’s Leadership Award from the UW School of Law.
Justice Montoya-Lewis has served on the Washington State Advisory Group on juvenile justice, the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice, has been a member of the Family Violence Advisory Board for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and the Judicial Engagement Network, and is a fellow of the Georgetown University Public Policy Institute’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform.
Justice Montoya-Lewis is an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Isleta tribe and a descendant of the Pueblo of Laguna tribe. She lives with her family, splitting time between Olympia and Bellingham.