The “Courts and Community” Team

If you don’t use the legal system, it can be a mystery.  It’s an even bigger mystery to communities of color or community members who don’t speak English.

In 2017, King County Superior Court established the Courts and Community team – judicial officers who commit time and energy to connecting with the community where they are.

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The Courts and Community team recognize outstanding high school students who “Rise Above the Challenge”.

The charter is rather formal: This committee promotes public understanding of the justice system through public presentations, teaching, and community events; strives to eliminate barriers to justice that may result from differences in culture, economic status, language, and physical or mental disabilities; and ensures that the court’s commitment to a diverse workforce is reflected in its policies.

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What does that look like? It looks like Thursday, Oct. 19, 2018 at El Centro de la Raza on 16th Street next to the Beacon Hill Link Light Rail stop at 6 pm as nine judges hosted the LatinX Heritage Month celebration for the community.

“Rising Above the Challenge” was the theme and guest speaker Jeremy Taiwo, a Seattle-born,

Afro-Latino 2016 Olympic Decathlete had a story to tell. His dream of competing in the 2012 Olympics suffered injury setbacks but, as 2016 drew closer, he could feel destiny.

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In his last qualifying race, he had to beat his closest competitor by 13 seconds in the mile – a seemingly impossible task when you are talking Olympic athletes. But he did it. He credits his community and family who believed in him and supported him. He says we are only limited by our own minds. So set no limits!

That was the introduction to our two student award winners: Gonzalo Cruz and Cielo Martinez. They, too, set no limits.

Gonzalo is a committed student and activist who plans to attend UW Bothell to study mechanical engineering. Gonzalo has been homeless since beginning high school, but still completed his school’s rigorous IB program. He completed UW’s STEM Upward Bound program, and was the captain of Chief Sealth’s wrestling team. As a member of Chief Sealth’s Protecto Saber, Gonzalo regularly participated in discussions about community issues, which led him to participate in immigration- and gun reform-related activism. He says perseverance and humility are two key qualities that have made him who he is.

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In 2014, Cielo came to the United States from Guatemala City with her mother and brother and entered high school knowing no English. Cielo devoted herself to being the best student and community member she could be. She was elected president of her school’s student government and served as a student representative for the Board of El Centro de la Raza. Cielo is currently attending Seattle Central College. She believes this generation can change in the world and her dream is to help the community by building a voice that creates greater change.

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As guests and judges broke break together and talked, they watched performances by “Balorico Dance”. Later everyone joined in for dance lessons! It was an opportunity to connect to each other in a spirited atmosphere where everyone enjoyed themselves.

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Judge Michael Diaz, Judge Laura Inveen, Judge Jim Rogers, Judge Janet Helson (behind           Judge Veronica Galvan – in front) 

The Courts and Community team is excited to more events in the community in 2019. If you would like to learn more, connect with us on facebook or send us an email and we will keep you updated when and where we will be next.

 

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