Learn more about Justice Fairhurst
Chief Justice, Washington State Supreme Court
Chair of the Board of Directors, Civility Center for Law
Elected in 2002, Mary Fairhurst began serving as a justice on the Washington Supreme Court in 2003. She felt she had come home because she started her legal career in the Supreme Court as a judicial clerk, working first with Chief Justice William H. Williams in 1984 and then with Justice William C. Goodloe until 1986.
In 2016, her colleagues elected her Chief Justice. As Chief Justice, she is the court’s chief spokesperson, presides over Supreme Court hearings and conferences, and co-chairs the State’s Board for Judicial Administration. She also chairs the Judicial Information System Committee and serves on the court’s Administrative Committee, Budget Committee and various other workgroups. As Chief Justice she represents the court at the Conference of Chief Justices and Bench-Bar-Press Committee.
Before returning to the Temple of Justice, Justice Fairhurst served the citizens of the state of Washington in the Washington Attorney General’s Office for the preceding 16 years. She worked with Attorneys General Christine Gregoire and Ken Eikenberry. She specialized in the areas of criminal justice, transportation, revenue, and labor. When she left, she was serving as the Division Chief of the Revenue, Bankruptcy and Collections Division. In 1998, Attorney General Gregoire gave her Steward of Justice Award to Justice Fairhurst.
Justice Fairhurst also did work not related to her cases that made a difference to Washington citizens. She worked on the constitutional amendment to increase the rights of crime victims while still honoring the constitutional rights of the accused. She organized the first statewide conferences on domestic violence. She planned and facilitated a youth violence summit and organized and moderated conferences dealing with sex offenders in the community.
Justice Fairhurst is and has been a leader in the legal profession. She served as President of the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA). She was the second woman and first public sector attorney to hold this position. She also served on the WSBA Board of Governors representing the Third Congressional District. She has served on many WSBA committees. The WSBA gave her its highest honor, the Award of Merit, in 2011.
Throughout her career, Justice Fairhurst has worked to enhance the opportunities for women and minorities in the profession and to ensure access to justice for low-income individuals and families. She was president of Washington Women Lawyers (WWL) and served on its state board. She has served on the Supreme Court’s Gender and Justice Commission and Access to Justice Board committees. WWL has awarded her its President’s Award, the Betty B. Fletcher Judge of the Year Award, and Passing the Torch Award. LEGALS, P.S. gave her its Allies for Justice Award.
Justice Fairhurst is committed to public legal education and is active working for children and youth. She is an ambassador of the iCivics program and is active with the YMCA Youth and Government Program and We the People. She served two years on the Girl Scouts Board of the Pacific Peaks Council. Justice Fairhurst speaks regularly to individuals and groups about the judiciary. The Council for Public Legal Education awarded her its Flame of Democracy Award and the Washington Judges’ Foundation awarded her the 2011 Judge William Nevins Award for distinguished service in public legal education.
Justice Fairhurst earned her law degree magna cum laude from Gonzaga University School of Law in 1984. She earned her undergraduate degree in political science cum laude from Gonzaga University in 1979. She also received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Gonzaga University in 2006. She received the Distinguished Judicial Service Award and Myra Bradwell Award from Gonzaga Law School. She was a member and served as president of the Gonzaga Law School Board of Advisors and served as president of the Gonzaga Law School Alumni Association.
Seattle University School of Law honored her at the 2011 Red Mass and established a Public Interest Law Association grant in her name.