WA Supreme Court Justice Whitener returning to work

By: - August 28, 2023 4:46 pm

Washington State Supreme Court Justice G. Helen Whitener has been out since March 2023 after back surgery. She’ll be hearing cases again starting in September. (Courtesy of Washington State Courts)

Washington state Supreme Court Justice G. Helen Whitener announced Monday she is returning from six months of medical leave and will participate in the court’s Fall term that begins next month.

Whitener went on leave March 9 to undergo major reconstructive back surgery for a degenerative back condition she has suffered with since her teenage years, according to a court release. As she continues her recovery, Whitener will take part remotely when hearings get underway in the second week of September.

“I am very grateful to my colleagues at the Supreme Court for their support. I had an excellent medical team and it appears that the surgery has restored my back to a ‘normal’ posture,” Whitener said in a statement. She said she hopes to rejoin the court in person in the winter term.

Gov. Jay Inslee appointed Whitener to the bench in 2020 and she was elected to a six-year term in 2022. She is a former Pierce County Superior Court judge.

In her absence, eligible retired and current judges from Washington’s Court of Appeals and current Superior Court judges have been appointed as pro tem justices on cases.

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Jerry Cornfield
Jerry Cornfield

Jerry Cornfield joined the Standard after 20 years covering Olympia statehouse news for The Everett Herald. Earlier in his career, he worked for daily and weekly papers in Santa Barbara, California.