First Latino Judge Appointed in East. Washington
Governor Jay Inslee is appointing Salvador Mendoza, Jr. to serve as Superior Court judge for Benton and Franklin counties.
Mendoza, who was raised in a family of migrant farm workers, is currently a Judge Pro-Tempore in Benton County Superior Court and Franklin County Juvenile District Court.
He is also a partner in a Kennewick law firm with an emphasis on adult and juvenile criminal law.
He helped start the Juvenile Drug Court program, has been a proponent of equal access to justice through his work with Benton-Franklin Legal Aid Society and served as a Columbia Basin College trustee.
“Salvador has an impressive legal resume and an equally inspiring background that will serve him well as a judge for the people of Benton and Franklin counties,” said Inslee. “He has deep roots in the Tri-Cities community and is deeply respected for his work and expertise. He definitely stood out as an exceptional choice for this job.”
Mendoza will be the only Latino Superior, District or Municipal court judge serving in Eastern Washington.
Mendoza will replace retiring Superior Court Judge Craig J. Matheson, who is stepping down after 26 years of dedicated service. Matheson endorsed Mendoza, saying “I have the greatest respect for Sal Mendoza. He is honest, dedicated and intelligent. He is the type of person who will become a leader in our court.”
Benton County Prosecuting Attorney Andy Miller says, “Sal not only has the legal qualities that would make him an excellent judge, but also the human qualities.”
Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Shawn Sant endorsed Mendoza, saying “His experience and work ethic are recognized by members of both civil and criminal bars. He strives for justice and equality in the legal profession.”
Mendoza’s term begins effective May 6, 2013.