UCARE: Undergraduate Creative Activities & Research Experiences


Date of this Version

Spring 2020

Document Type



Morrison, Ashley M. Surveying Seattle Legal History: An Examination of Judge Thomas Burke. UCARE Poster; University of Nebraska-Lincoln Research Fair. 2020 April; Lincoln, NE.

Copyright 2020 by the authors.


Copyright 2020 by the author.


In the United States judiciary system, judges are assumed to be unbiased in their legal decisions on cases. In many cases, unfortunately, this is rarely the reality. By examining Judge Thomas Burke specifically, a survey of Seattle's legal environment can be revealed. From Judge Burke's connections with the railroad industry and protection of Chinese laborers during anti-Chinese riots reveals his desire for economic gain. With Judge Burke only presiding over two habeas corpus cases, neither dealing with anti-Chinese riots or the legality of Chinese laborers, no concrete conclusion can be drawn in that regard. Even still, Judge Burke's continued support of Chinese laborers and his financial involvement with the railroad industry reveals one reason for his actions during the 1880s.