Robert Chang and Justice Gonzalez honored for work on race and criminal justice

February 21, 2014

Robert ChangSeattle University School of Law Professor Robert Chang, along with State Supreme Court Justice Steven González and Administrative Law Judge Nicole Gaines, received the 2014 Charles A. Goldmark Distinguished Service Award from the Legal Foundation of Washington for powerfully confronting racial disparity in the state's criminal justice system.

The three co-chaired the Task Force on Race and the Criminal Justice System after two sitting Supreme Court Justices made troubling remarks in public about minorities. Chang, founding director of the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality, and then-King County Superior Court Judge González, and Gaines completed extensive research and brought together representatives from throughout the state, eventually producing an in-depth report that educated the justices and others about racial bias and barriers that prevent equal justice.

Their groundbreaking work drew multiple nominations for this award.

"We owe Justice González and Professor Chang a debt of gratitude for stepping up and publicly challenging the assertion that minorities are overrepresented in our courts and prisons because those individuals commit more crimes," Dean Annette Clark wrote. "Their work has shed light on the dark underbelly of a system that many insisted was unbiased and fair, and the knowledge that their efforts helped produce has transformed our understanding and is propelling change for the better in our state's criminal justice system."

Professor Chang is a widely respected scholar in the areas of race and the law. As executive director of the Korematsu Center, he works to advance justice through knowledge and advocacy. Among his many publications are "Disoriented: Asian Americans, Law and the Nation-State," and more than 35 articles, essays, and chapters published in leading law reviews and books on Critical Race Theory, LatCrit Theory, and Asian American Legal Studies.

The Legal Foundation of Washington presented the award at the 28th annual Goldmark Luncheon on Feb. 21. The Goldmark Award was created in 1987 to recognize exceptional efforts in assuring equal access to justice. In assessing candidates, the Foundation trustees look for outstanding work that has a recognizable, positive impact on low-income residents of Washington State, and that furthers the goals and objectives of the Legal Foundation of Washington. The award is named in honor of Charles A. Goldmark, a prominent Seattle attorney who was president of the Legal Foundation of Washington at the time of his tragic death in January 1986.

Read more about the work of the Task Force on Race and the Criminal Justice System.