All of the judges at the Tulalip Tribal Court have extensive experience working with Native American tribes as well as with county, state and federal courts. Each judge has a distinct background that brings both diversity and a wealth of knowledge to the tribal court. Some are distinguished professors, and others have received awards for their work with Native Americans. They have worked in areas such as treaty rights and tribal governance, gaming, Indian law, mental health law and criminal law, among others. They also bring experience in tribal juvenile justice, Indian child welfare and advocacy for victims of violence. You can read their bios below.
Tulalip Tribal Court Chief Judge Ron J. Whitener is also a justice on the Northwest Intertribal Court of Appeals, the Chehalis Tribal Court of Appeals and the Upper Skagit Tribal Court of Appeals. 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 a public defender for several Western Washington tribes. Judge Whitener taught various courses in the fields of Indian law, mental health law and criminal law. He 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. From 2009 to 2013, Judge Whitener served as the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation chief judge. He is a member of the Squaxin Island Tribe located in South Puget Sound where he grew up. He continues to participate in treaty fishing and as the Squaxin Island commissioner of business affairs. Judge Whitener worked for the Squaxin Island Natural Resources Department before going to law school. In May of 2014, Judge Whitener left the University of Washington to join the Tulalip Tribal Court.
Tulalip Tribal Court Associate Judge Remy S. Leonard was born and raised in Everett, Washington. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Washington State University in 1993 and her Juris Doctorate 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 the court as a part-time associate judge in February 2016.
Tulalip Tribal Court Associate 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 Tribal Court for the last 3.5 years, she is also the elected Chief judge for her Tribe in Hoopa, California and the chief judge for both the Elk Valley Rancheria 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. Judge Colegrove believes in a restorative and cultural approach to justice and has developed several wellness/drug courts based on those principles.
Tulalip Tribal Court Associate Judge Janine B. Van Dusen was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation. She received her Bachelor of Science in Information Studies and Communication from Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida in 2002 and her Juris Doctorate from the Florida A & M University College of Law, Orlando, Florida in 2007. While in law school, she concentrated on Indian law and Indian child welfare issues. After law school, Judge Van Dusen joined a law firm in Orlando, Florida, and subsequently opened her private law firm in 2008. She has served as an attorney Guardian ad Litem (GAL) for the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit Court, Viera, Florida, and is a member of the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida. Her practice focused on family law, juvenile dependency, and estate planning and was in business until 2012 when she and her family moved back to Washington State. She has handled hundreds of civil and criminal cases representing clients in state, federal and tribal courts in both Florida and Washington State. Judge Van Dusen joined the Tulalip Tribal Court in 2012. While at the court, Judge Van Dusen served as the court administrator, pro se judicial facilitator and the domestic violence victim's advocate attorney with Tulalip Civil Legal Aid Office (TOCLA). Judge Van Dusen was the managing attorney for TOCLA from 2015 – 2017. She also served as an adjunct professor at Northwest Indian College, Tulalip campus, teaching cultural sovereignty. She was a member of the Florida Justice Teaching Task Force at local schools.
Judge Van Dusen has membership in the following organizations: National Native American Bar Association, Northwest Indian Bar Association, National American Indian Court Judges Association (NAICJA), National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges as well as the Tulalip Tribes' Law and Justice Committee. Since 2014, Judge Van Dusen has been appointed as a Judge pro tem in several tribal courts and began serving as a Judge pro tem in Tulalip Tribal Court in September 2015.
Tulalip Tribal Court Associate Judge Joshua Heath is a proud citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, the capital of which is in Ada, Oklahoma. In 2006, he graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Art double major in political science and philosophy and with a minor in music performance – jazz piano emphasis from Grand Canyon University, in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2010 he received his Juris Doctorate from Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and was admitted to the Arizona State Bar. He has since been admitted to the Washington State Bar, the Federal Bar – Arizona District, the Puyallup Tribal Bar, the Nisqually Tribal Bar, and has been a member of the Maricopa County Bar Association, the Thurston County Bar Association, and the Northwest Indian Bar Association.
After becoming an attorney, Judge Heath was briefly a volunteer restitution coordinator for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, and he also volunteered his time providing legal assistance to indigent tenants against slumlords for Community Legal Services. He was of-counsel for a private law firm in Glendale, Arizona, where he practiced in civil litigation, 42 U.S.C. 1983 civil rights cases (fighting prisoner and elder abuse), evictions and consumer bankruptcy. In 2011 he became a prosecutor, handling thousands of cases in a busy court and taking numerous cases to trial, as well as managing all city code prosecutions for the City of Glendale, Arizona.
In 2013, he moved to western Arizona to become an associate judge for the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT), in Parker, Arizona. When he first became a judge at the age of 28, he was the youngest judge in the state of Arizona. While he was a judge for CRIT, he also presided as an associate justice for the Yavapai Apache Nation Court of Appeals, in Camp Verde, Arizona, starting in 2014. Later in 2015 he was promoted to chief justice and remained in that position until he retired from it in 2018. In 2016, he moved to Washington to become an associate judge for the Puyallup Tribal Court. He was head of the criminal division at both Puyallup and CRIT, and at Puyallup he also presided over all protective order cases, and all traffic and civil hearing matters, including hunting, fishing, shellfish and diving cases. He shared the civil and family law dockets with the other judges.
In 2019 he joined the Northwest Intertribal Court as a pro tem tribal court and appellate court judge/justice, and also accepted a position with the Tulalip Tribal Court as an associate judge.
Tulalip Tribal Court Director Alicia Horne is a member of Tulalip Tribes. She has worked for and contributed to the court in various positions for ten years. As the director, her goal is to ensure that justice upholds the Tulalip Tribal Court's vision, "together we create a healthy and culturally vibrant community."