Served: Monday, January 11th, 1993 to Present
Chief Justice: Monday, January 11th, 2010 to PresentOn November 5, 2009, her colleagues unanimously elected Justice Barbara Madsen to serve as the 55th Chief Justice of the Washington State Supreme Court. As Chief Justice, she will be the court’s chief spokesperson, preside over Supreme Court hearings and conferences, and co-chair the state’s Board for Judicial Administration, the policy arm of the state judiciary. The voters elected Justice Madsen as the third woman to serve on the Washington Supreme Court in 1992, and she was re-elected in 1998 and 2004.
Justice Madsen, 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. Justice Madsen serves regularly as a judge at Gonzaga’s Annual Moot Court Competition and at the Thomas Tang National Moot Court Competition.
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 on the Seattle Municipal Court bench, 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.
In 1993, Justice Madsen was honored as 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, Seattle University School of Law Woman of the Year in 2003, 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.
Justice Madsen and her husband, Donald Madsen, live in Pierce County and have four children.
[Source: Washington Courts, http://www.courts.wa.gov/, last visited January 20, 2010]