As one person put it: “Judge Charles V. Johnson gained success the old-fashioned way, he earned it. The strands of hard work, devotion to family and deep religious conviction were woven into a thread that runs through his life.” Judge Johnson, a tireless and extremely effective advocate for the improvement of the judiciary and the judicial system, was the first recipient of LMBA’s Award of Excellence. Judge Johnson graduated from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in 1954 and the University of Washington’s School of Law in 1957. He practiced law in Seattle from 1958 to 1969. He served as Judge in the Seattle Municipal Court from 1969 to 1980 and served three terms as its Presiding Judge. In 1981, he was appointed to the King County Superior where he served as Presiding Judge from 1990 to 1993.
Through his service on numerous local and national boards and committees, Judge Johnson has demonstrated the highest principals of selfless devotion. As a member of the NAACP National Board of Directors, he served for more than ten years as Chair of the NAACP’s National Legal Committee and Vice Chair of the Committee on Branches. He was also past President of the Seattle Branch NAACP and the Northwest Area Conference of NAACP. He has given over twenty years of service to the YMCA’s National Council and as the first African-American to Chair the Seattle Metropolitan YMCA. In the 1960’s, he was one of the organizers of the Seattle Model Cities Program and Chair of it Citizens Advisory Council.
He has been the recipient of the Outstanding Judge of the Year Awards from the WSBA (1994), WSTLA (1997), Seattle-King County Bar Association (1991), and the Distinguished Alumni Award from the UW School of Law. He is past President of the American Judge’s Association, an organization of some 1,600 judges.