Chief Justice Barbara Madsen named law school's Woman of the Year
(March 15, 2010) Seattle University School of Law and the Women's Law Caucus will honor Washington Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Madsen as the Woman of the Year. The award will be presented at a luncheon at the Rainier Club March 25.
Justice Madsen became chief justice in November 2009. She is the court's chief spokesperson, presides over Supreme Court hearings and conferences, and co-chairs the state's Board for Judicial Administration, the policy arm of the state judiciary. She was the third woman elected to the court in 1992, and she was re-elected in 1998 and 2004.
A native of Renton, received her undergraduate degree from the University of Washington in 1974 and earned her J.D. from Gonzaga University School of Law in 1977. While at Gonzaga, Justice Madsen volunteered many hours with Gonzaga's University Legal Assistance Clinic and Spokane Legal Services.
After completing law school, Justice Madsen worked as a public defender in King and Snohomish counties. In 1982, she joined the Seattle City Attorney's Office and was appointed special prosecutor in 1984. Mayor Charles Royer appointed Justice Madsen in 1988 to the Seattle Municipal Court bench.
Justice Madsen's commitment to equal justice and diversity began when she served as the special prosecutor. She developed the child abuse component of the Family Violence Project. Later, while serving as a municipal court judge, she began working toward the development of a Domestic Violence Coordinating Committee to comprehensively address violence in the family. As the Presiding Judge, Justice Madsen increased opportunities for women and attorneys of color to receive appointments as pro tem judges. She encouraged and increased diversity among the court employee population. Justice Madsen's commitment to equal justice continues today in her role as the chair of the Washington State Gender and Justice Commission.
Justice Madsen shared a previous law school Woman of the Year Award with other women justices in 2003, and she has received numerous other honors. In 1993, she was the first recipient of the annual Myra Bradwell Award, honoring an outstanding alumna of Gonzaga University School of Law who has made great strides on behalf of women. In 1998, the Thurston County Women's Symposium honored her as a Very Important Woman. She received the Washington Women Lawyers Vanguard Award in 1998 and 2002 for her leadership and inspiration for women in the legal profession. Justice Madsen was honored with a Department of the Army Certificate of Achievement in 1999, Washington Women Lawyers Foundation Award in 2001, National Association of Women Judges Special President's Award in 2002, Equal Justice Coalition Judicial Award in 2004, the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association Certificate of Appreciation for Contribution to Legal Education in 2004, an award from the Washington State Bar Association for her leadership and work on behalf of the Washington State Gender and Justice Commission in 2004, and an Access to Justice Award of Distinction for Public Service in 2006.
Justice Madsen also chairs the Supreme Court Personnel Committee, co-chairs the court's Internal Rules Committee, serves on the Budget Committee, the Administrative Committee, and the Washington Court Reports Commission. Justice Madsen is a member of Washington Women Lawyers and the National Association of Women Judges.