Today, Gov. Jay Inslee announced the appointment of two new judges to the Pierce County Superior Court, Clarence Henderson, Jr. and Matthew Thomas. Henderson will replace Frank Cuthbertson, who will retire on March 30; Thomas replaces Kathryn Nelson, who retires September 20.
Henderson has been a Pierce County Court Commissioner since January 2019, presiding over a range of family law, probate, and domestic violence hearings, among other things. Before becoming a court commissioner, he worked in Pierce County’s Department of Assigned Counsel for over 13 years and served as the lead attorney in the delinquency division. Henderson also served as a Commissioner on the Washington State Human Rights Commission from 2012 to 2019. In 2018, he co-founded the Youth Law Institute, an outreach program designed to encourage students of color to consider legal careers.
“Clarence is a compassionate leader, and he is clearly dedicated to serving the Pierce County community. Not only does he have the legal experience to succeed on the bench, but everyone who has observed him speaks highly of his soft skills—his extraordinary ability to connect with people on a human level.”
Henderson received his law degree from the Regent University School of Law and his bachelor's from Norfolk State University.
Thomas has been an Assistant United States Attorney since 1996, assigned to the Tacoma branch, handling federal cases in the United States District Court and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In this role, Thomas helped establish an anti-corruption training program at the U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua. Earlier, Thomas was a Pierce County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney from 1990 to 1996. Thomas has taught law related classes at Pierce College and the University of Washington Tacoma and volunteers as a judge for the University of Washington School of Law. He also served as president of the Tacoma Pierce County Bar Association from 2016 to 2017.
“Matt has the judicial temperament and experience to contribute to the court from day one," Inslee said. "He is admired for his civility and fairness. He is a stellar attorney and leader in the local legal community. I have no doubt that Matt will flourish as a judge on the Pierce County Superior Court.”
Thomas received his law degree from the University of Washington School of Law and his bachelor's from Washington State University.