CONNECTS Participant Packet

Study packet for our most recent guest – WA State Supreme Court Justice Montoya Lewis


Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis was appointed by Governor Inslee to the State Supreme Court in 2019, and she took the oath of office on January 6, 2020. Prior to her service on the State Supreme Court, she served as Chief Judge for the Lummi, Nooksack, and Upper Skagit tribes. This gave her a comprehensive understanding of issues affecting Native Americans and indigenous people in Washington state. Justice Montoya-Lewis is the first tribally enrolled member to sit on a State Supreme Court and the second Native American to sit on any State Supreme Court. To learn more about her, click here for her bio at the Supreme Court website. Justice Montoya-Lewis was the 2023 Graduation Speaker at the UW School of Social Work: click here for more information. 

Dates to remember:

  • This program has already aired – you can watch all of our finished CONNECTS episodes any time HERE


Before meeting with an elected official, it is important to have context for your questions. Look at the topics, pick one or two topics and examine the resources within that topic. After conducting your research, use the question format guideline in Step 2 below.

TopicResourcesQuestions to Consider
How the Washington State Courts WorkA Citizen’s Guide to Washington’s Court System

Tribal Court Systems: Bureau of Indian Affairs 

Washington State Court Directory: Tribal Courts
Think about: tribal sovereignty and how that affects the relationship between tribal courts and state courts.

Consider: the difficulties that citizens might have navigating the different court systems.
Background of Justice Montoya-LewisNAMI (National Association of Mental Illness) interviews the Justice to speak about the intergenerational trauma caused by Native American boarding schools on tribal communities. She also discusses her work as a trial judge and the child welfare system.Think about Justice Montoya-Lewis’ background as a tribal member 

Consider how that experience relates to her time on the bench, both as a trial judge and a Supreme Court justice.
First Experience on the Bench in New MexicoIn an interview with the Portia Project, the Justice shares her experience as a judge in New Mexico.Think about: the difference between tribal courts, trial courts, and the state supreme court. 

Consider: how the Justice’s experience in tribal communities shaped her experience in Washington State.
Work on Washington Tribal CourtsIn an interview with the Portia Project, the Justice discusses some of her work on Tribal Courts in NW Washington State.Think about: Justice Montoya-Lewis’ experience with the different legal systems of tribal nations. 

Consider: How are they similar and different to one another and to the state judicial system
Work on the Washington State Supreme CourtIn an interview with the Portia Project, the Justice discusses her time so far on the Washington State Supreme Court. Episode 124: The Portia Project Interview with Justice Montoya-LewisThink about: the conversations that the justices have during term.

Consider: How agreements and disagreements can help justices come to a fair decision that follows the rule of law.
State of the Supreme Court 2023In this State of the Judiciary, 2023, Chief Justice Gonzales details how the Judicial Branch is forging a more accessible, equitable judicial system. Peruse the Table of Contents to find an article that interests you.Think about: the importance of cultural, racial, and/or gender diversity to the State Supreme Court.

Consider: what are some of the most defining issues of our time; what are some issues going forward?



  1. Use the links above to research information about the guest.
  2. Follow this formula when writing your question for the guest:
    • Your name + your grade and school +
    • something you learned from your research +
    • question about what you learned

Example from interview with Chief Justice Steve Gonzales:

  • My name is _________ from ____________School. My question is: Upon swearing in as Chief Justice, you vowed to eradicate bias in the justice system. How much progress have you witnessed and what progress do you anticipate?


  • Watch this short demo video for tips on recording a great video question
  • Name your video file: YourFirstLastName_TeacherLastName


Click on the button below to fill out the necessary student waiver form and upload your video to the CONNECTS Dropbox.

Video questions are to be uploaded (and waivers signed) by the cutoff on Wednesday, December 6th at 11pm. After the cutoff, TVW-CONNECTS producers will determine which questions will be included in the live Q&A and send out an announcement letting participants know if their questions were selected by Friday, December 8th.

Join our forum and be part of the discussion!

Comments are closed.