Washington law schools form task force, addressing racial discrimination in state’s courts

Gonzaga University School Of Law

SPOKANE, Wash. — Gonzaga University, University of Washington and Seattle University law schools have formed a task force to address racial discrimination in Washington’s criminal justice system.

The law school’s deans, Jacob Rooksby (Gonzaga), Mario Barnes (UW) and Annette Clark (Seattle) are serving as co-chairs of the ad hoc ‘Task Force on Race and Washington’s Criminal Justice System.’

According to Gonzaga Law, this is a re-launch of their previous ‘Task Force on the Criminal Justice System,’ formed in 2010 after a then-sitting state judge said Blacks commit more crimes.

During that time, Gonzaga says that Task Force compiled and presented reports on race disproportionality to the court in 2011 and 2012—which led to several changes in the state’s justice system, including the death penalty being made unconstitutional, and addressing implicit and explicit bias in jury selection.

The three law school deans issued a joint statement with their announcement:

“Despite some positive changes, we find ourselves still living in a world where race matters too much in the wrong ways in our criminal justice system. We need a system where Black lives matter. We need to and can do better. Reconvening the ad hoc task force is one step, an attempt to answer the call of the Court that has called on us to ‘lean in to do this hard and necessary work.’ In turn, we call on you to join us.”

People and organizations interested in joining the task force are encouraged to contact Professor Chang at Seattle University. If you are interested in working through one of the other schools, you can reach them here.

Professor Robert S. Chang at changro@seattleu.edu


Professor Jason Gillmer at gillmer@gonzaga.edu


Dr. Alexes Harris at yharris@uw.edu