Gov. Jay Inslee announced today the appointment of J. Michael Diaz to the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division One. He will replace Judge Jim Verellen, who is retiring July 31.
Since January 2018, Diaz has served as a King County Superior Court judge. In that role he has presided over approximately four dozen trials in all types of criminal and civil matters. Diaz also served a term as the chief judge of King County’s Patricia H. Clark Children & Family Justice Center. Before his appointment to the superior court, Diaz spent a decade as an assistant United States attorney at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington, where he founded the office’s civil rights program. He began his career in private practice, first as an associate at the international law firm Fulbright & Jaworski LLP in Houston, Texas, then at the litigation boutique Yarmuth Wilsdon Calfo PLLC in Seattle.
In 2016, President Obama nominated Diaz to be a U.S. District Court judge for the Western District of Washington. His nomination expired and was returned to the president in January 2017 without U.S. Senate action.
Diaz is also active in the community. He’s an adjunct professor of law at the Seattle University School of Law, where he has taught a civil rights course and supervised independent studies. Diaz is on faculty at the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Advocacy Center, the Washington State Judicial Institute, and the Washington State Judicial College. He is currently the chairperson of the Washington Supreme Court’s Interpreter Commission.
“Over the last four years Judge Diaz has excelled on the trial bench,” said Inslee. “He has earned a reputation as a talented, respected, hard-working trial judge, and he will make a fantastic addition to our appellate bench.”
Diaz earned his bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from the University of Notre Dame. He earned his law degree from Cornell Law School, where he served on the Cornell International Law Journal.