Tulalip Tribal Court
Chief Judge Theresa M. Pouley Retires
Tulalip News Article:
Tulalip Tribal Court Chief Judge Ronald J. Whitener
Ron J. Whitener is Chief Judge of the Tulalip Tribal Court, a Justice on the Northwest Intertribal Court of Appeals, the Chehalis Tribal Court of Appeals and the Upper Skagit Tribal Court of Appeals. From 2009 to 2013, Judge Whitener served as the Chief Judge for the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation. Judge Whitener is a member of the Squaxin Island Tribe, located in South Puget Sound, where he grew up and continues to participate in treaty fishing and as the Squaxin Island Commissioner of Business Affairs. Judge Whitener worked for Squaxin Island in their Natural Resources Department prior to going to law school. He graduated from the University of Washington Law School in 1994 and returned to Squaxin as a tribal attorney representing the tribal government in treaty rights defense, tribal governance, tribal court development, gaming and other enterprises. In 2000, he joined the Northwest Justice Project’s Native American Unit in Seattle where he represented Native American clients in federal, state and tribal courts. In 2002, he joined the University of Washington Law School as an Assistant Professor where, with funding and support of the Tulalip Tribes, he formed the Tribal Court Public Defense Clinic serving as public defender for several Western Washington tribes. Judge Whitener taught various courses in the fields of Indian law, mental health law and criminal law and was named Order of the Coif and Order of Barristers for his work in law and his experience as a courtroom advocate. He received funding from the MacArthur Foundation to implement culturally-informed projects in tribal juvenile justice in the areas of indigent juvenile defense and mental health issues. In 2009, he was named the Association of American Law School’s “Shanara Gilbert Emerging Clinician of the Year” and in 2011 he was named a “White House Champion of Change” by President Barack Obama for his advocacy for Native American clients. In May of 2014, Judge Whitener left the University of Washington to join the Tulalip Tribal Court.
Tulalip Tribal Court Associate Judge Michael J. Fox
Associate Judge Michael J. Fox joined the Tulalip Tribal Court on February 1, 2017. Governor Booth Gardner appointed Judge Fox to the King County Superior Court in 1988, where he served as a trial Judge for 23 years until his retirement in 2011.
Judge Fox graduated from Cornell University in 1966, and the University of Virginia School of Law in 1969. During his career as a lawyer, he specialized in handling cases involving civil rights, and labor and employment law. From 1969 to 1973, he worked with Seattle Legal Services and began representing farm workers in the Yakima Valley and African American construction worker’s fighting racial discrimination in the Seattle building trades. He continued representing those groups, as well as other workers’ groups and labor unions, throughout his time practicing law.
In 1973 and 1974, he served as National Counsel of the United Farm Workers of America in Washington D.C. Upon returning to Washington State, he founded the Northwest Labor and Employment Law Office, a church and foundation funded-public interest law firm dedicated to improving employment opportunities for low-income minority workers. From 1977 to 1981, he served as Litigation Coordinator of the Farm Worker Division of Evergreen Legal Services. In 1981, he became a partner in the Seattle law firm now known as Skellenger Bender, where he worked until his appointment to the Superior Court.
In 1989, The United Farm Workers awarded him the “Pioneer Legal Defender Award” in recognition of his 17 years of precedent-setting legal representation in agricultural labor law. A year later, the Washington State Hispanic Bar Association (now the “Latina/o Bar Association of Washington”) awarded him its Silver Gavel Award in “recognition of outstanding service to the Hispanic community, the people of the State of Washington and the Bar”. Judge Fox speaks Spanish.
In his years on the King County Superior Court, Judge Fox serve as Chair of the Court’s Jury Committee, and Co-Chair of the Individual Calendaring Committee. For eight of his years on the bench, he served on the Executive Committee, which sets policy and oversees the administration of the King County Superior Court, the largest trial court in the Pacific Northwest. He also served for two years as a Judge on the Court’s Drug Diversion Court, a therapeutic court similar to the Tulalip Tribal Court’s new Wellness Court.
During his retirement, Judge Fox has volunteered with several Seattle non-profit organizations dedicated to improving educational opportunities for low-income youth, including Rainier Scholars, Seattle Girl’s School, and College Access Now.
Tulalip Tribal Court Associate Judge Lisa L. Atkinson
Associate Judge Lisa L. Atkinson (Northern Cherokee/Osage) is a proud graduate of Oregon State University (BA cum laude in Political Science with Spanish Minor and BA cum laude in International Studies with French emphasis) and of the University of Washington School of Law. Judge Atkinson maintains an active private law practice while also serving, and having served as, as a Presiding judge, Pro Tem judge, Hearing Officer, and/or Appellate Justice for over 30 Tribal courts in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, and Massachusetts. Judge Atkinson has also served as a public defender, prosecutor, and presenting officer (for dependency cases) in more than ten (10) Tribal courts. Judge Atkinson currently sits on the board of the Northwest Tribal Court Judges’ Association (President), Northwest Indian Bar Association (Treasurer), the Washington State Minority & Justice Commission. Judge Atkinson previously served a nine-year term on the Board of Directors for the Northwest Justice Project, and a five-year term on the Access to Justice Board. Judge Atkinson has also served as a Tulalip Tribes Pro Tem Judge for the past 15 years prior to her appointment as a part-time Tulalip Associate Judge on Mondays and Tuesdays of each week.
Judge Atkinson has spoken at over fourteen state/national events on Tribal courts and topics of Indian Law, including speaking on issues of training, and practice in Tribal courts. Judge Atkinson has also taught over 13 different courses to university and community college students in Oregon and Washington.
Tulalip Tribal Court Associate Judge Remy S. Leonard
Remy S. Leonard is an Associate Judge of the Tulalip Tribal Court. Judge Leonard was born and raised in Everett, Washington. She received her BA in political science from Washington State University in 1993, and her JD from the University of Oregon School of law in 1997. After law school Judge Leonard joined the Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and served as a criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney from 1997-2003. While at the prosecutor’s office, Judge Leonard handled hundreds of criminal cases in both District and Superior Court, including the juvenile court SAU and felony domestic violence units. In 2004, after a short time in private civil practice, Judge Leonard began teaching criminal law and procedure classes at Everett Community College, and business law in the EvCC/Tulalip Tribal entrepreneurship program. She also served as an Adjunct Professor of political science courses at Trinity Lutheran College, and continues her work instructing both undergraduate law and MBA classes at Columbia College. Since 2013, Judge Leonard has served as a Judge pro tem in Snohomish County District Court, Bothell, Edmonds, Marysville, and Monroe Municipal Courts. She began serving as a Judge pro tem in Tulalip Tribal Court in October 2015, joined Tulalip Tribal Court as a part-time Associate Judge in February 2016, and is now a full-time Judge as of January 1st, 2017.
Tulalip Tribal Court Associate Judge Leona Colegrove
Judge Leona Colegrove is a Juris Doctorate graduate of the University of Washington School of Law and has a Concentration in Alternative Dispute Resolution. In addition to sitting at Tulalip she is also an Associate Judge for her own Tribe in Hoopa California and the Chief Judge for both the Quileute Tribe and the Round Valley Tribe in northern California. Judge Colegrove is an enrolled member of the Hoopa Tribe and also a descendant of the Quinault Tribe. She has been practicing law since 2000 and began her judicial work in both Tribal and State Court in 2006. She has extensive experience hearing child welfare and family law matters. In addition to her judicial work, Judge Colegrove is an active attorney and has litigated Indian child welfare proceedings in both Tribal and State Court. Judge Colegrove has written articles on Title IV-E and other topics that she believes may assist Tribes in protecting and providing services to Indian children in the foster care system. She was the first Indian Judge to sit on the Washington State Supreme Court Commission on Children in Foster Care. She currently sits on the Washington State Tribal Court Judges Association Governing Board as well as the National American Indian Court Judges Associations Executive Board. She is the Director of the Nisqually Tribe’s Legal Office. She has two daughters, Olivia and BryceLynn. Judge Colegrove sits on the Tulalip Bench as a part-time Associate Judge every other Friday to hear Family Law cases.
Wendy A. Church, Tulalip Tribal Court Director
Wendy A. Church, is a Tulalip Tribal member, and earned her undergraduate degree in criminal justice at Columbia College of Missouri and a master's degree in public administration with an emphasis in tribal governance from Evergreen State College (Her Master's capstone research paper was on The Resurrection of the Tulalip Tribes' Law and Justice System and its Socio-Economic Impacts). She also has a Legal Secretary/Assistant certificate from L.H. Bates Vocational-Technical Institute.
Wendy is currently employed as the Tulalip Tribal Court Director, and was previously employed with the Office of the Tulalip Tribes' Reservation Attorney as office manager for seven years, and three years as a Legal Secretary. Other employment included working at the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Puget Sound Agency, editor of the Tulalip Tribal newspaper (The See-Yaht-Sub), and the Small Tribes of Western Washington.
She is an alternate board member of the Northwest Intertribal Court System, and has membership to the following organizations: National Association for Court Management; Tulalip Tribes' Law and Justice Committee; and, the Northwest Indian Bar Association. She recently completed and graduated from the National Judicial College's Court Management for Tribal Court Judges and Personnel.