Judge Michael James Fox was born in New London, Connecticut in 1944. During the 1960s, he became politically active in the Civil Rights Movement. While attending law school in Virginia, Fox was part of the Legal Aid Societyï¿½an organization that provided legal services to people from low-income backgrounds. After law school, his experience with the Legal Aid Society greatly influenced his decision to continue to help unrepresented people. Having also acquired Spanish speaking skills Fox became interested in working with farmworkers.
In 1969, Fox moved to Washington and discovered that the state had the fourth largest migrant farmworker population in the country. In the following year, the wildcat hop strikes began in the Yakima Valley. Fox connected with the organizers Tomas Villanueva and Lupe Gamboa and offered to provide legal representation to the emerging farmworkers union.
As the UFW lawyer, Fox in Garza v. Patnode (1971) argued successfully that farmworkers had the right to organize. In that same year, Fox and Lupe Gamboa were arrested and convicted for trespassing onto the Rogerï¿½s Walla Walla labor camp . Their convictions were eventually overturned and the decision confirmed that tenants in labor camps had the right to meet with a union representative. Both cases were instrumental to the early efforts of the union (see State v. Fox, 1973). Fox continued to provide legal representation to the UFW unil 1988.
In that year he became a King County Superior Court Judge. On the bench, Fox called attention to the treatment of minorities in the legal system particularly related to drug sentencing. He retired in 2011 after a distinguished judicial career.
Judge Fox was interviewed by Josue Q. Estrada at the University of Washington on July 17, 2014.