Judge Nelson Lee was appointed to the King County Superior Court bench in February 2020 by Governor Jay Inslee.  He is now running for election to retain his seat on the bench for a 4-year term.  He has been rated “Exceptionally Well Qualified” by five independent Bar Associations.

Judge Lee was born in Washington D.C. and his parents were first-generation immigrants – his father was Chinese and his mother Japanese.  The family textile business created opportunities for Nelson to live an interesting but challenging global life – Hong Kong, Washington D.C., Nigeria, England, and Taiwan.  Along the way, he learned to speak both Mandarin Chinese and Japanese.

Nelson’s early years in Nigeria were difficult for his family in the aftermath of civil war in that country, so his parents opted to send him off to boarding school in England when he was just 7 years old.  At that time, he was the first non-white student to have ever enrolled in the school which had a rich, historical past, but less tolerance for a kid who was “different,” and ultimately Nelson opted to spend his high school years in Taiwan.

After graduating with honors from Boston College, and Pepperdine Law School where he discovered a talent for trial advocacy, Nelson spent 17 years as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney right here in King County trying serious and challenging homicide and sexual assault cases.  These are some of the cases he successfully prosecuted:

  • State v. Charles Champion: the aggravated murder prosecution of a man who shot a Des Moines police officer.
  • State v. Lorraine Netherton: the prosecution of the former Chair of the Domestic Violence Task Force for the murder of a bystander.
  • State v. William Barber: the prosecution of a man who murdered his wife and attempted to murder their two children.
  • State v. Tony Giles: the prosecution of a renowned basketball coach for the sexual assault of students.

In 2010, Nelson launched his own private law practice with his attorney wife, Bethany Mito, and developed broad experience in civil litigation and immigration law.

A past president of the Asian Bar Association of Washington and the Hong Kong-Greater China Business Association of Washington, Judge Lee has also been a frequent and entertaining speaker on subjects ranging from immigration to criminal misbehavior in family law cases.  He has also been a trial practice instructor at both the University of Washington and Seattle University Law Schools.

Judge Lee has three children and resides in Bothell where he occasionally finds time for tinkering with his classic cars.