Washington Courts: Press Release Detail
Barbara A. Madsen sworn in as 55th chief justice of Washington Supreme CourtJanuary 13, 2010
With an inauguration ceremony that emphasized access to justice for all and diversity on the bench and in the legal profession, Barbara A. Madsen was sworn in Monday morning as the 55th chief justice of the Washington Supreme Court.
“As we all know, justice is not a symbol or a building, justice is what happens inside those buildings,” Madsen said shortly after taking the oath of office from previous chief justice Gerry Alexander.
In a standing-room-only event at the Temple of Justice in Olympia, Madsen was welcomed to her new role by Governor Christine Gregoire and a large crowd of retired justices, judges from across the state, legislative and executive branch leaders, judicial branch leaders, Bar Association officials, law professors, attorneys, and family and friends.
Madsen became the third woman to serve on the state’s highest court when she was elected in 1992. On November 5, 2009, she was unanimously elected by the members of the Supreme Court to become the next chief justice, making her the second woman to preside over the Washington judicial branch.
“This certainly is an important day for our judiciary,” Gov. Gregoire said in remarks before the swearing-in. “Congratulations to Justice Madsen…Her colleagues know that she will be an exemplary leader of the state judiciary, and a tireless worker for the people. I look forward to your tenure as chief justice.”
Madsen was next welcomed with remarks by Washington State Bar Foundation President Ron Ward. “Justice Madsen told me that equal justice means the Washington Supreme Court and, indeed, all tribunals must be open to all. She expressed a desire to be a role model in this,” Ward said. He later added that if the judiciary does not reflect the diversity of the nation, it risks being seen as inaccessible and irrelevant.
Also speaking was Eileen Concannon, president of the Boards of the Center for Women and Democracy, and former president of the King County Bar Association. “All of her life, Justice Madsen has demonstrated herself to be an extraordinary leader,” Concannon said.
While serving as presiding judge at Seattle Municipal Court, Madsen focused on increasing diversity in the court and establishing a Domestic Violence Coordinating Committee. She was so dedicated to issues of poverty, child abuse, domestic violence, fairness for people of color and other access-to-justice issues that she ran for the Supreme Court when women on the Court were still an oddity and with her youngest child less than 2 years old, Concannon said. “She has not allowed societal attitudes or doubts to hinder her goals and beliefs.”
Madsen has served as chair of the Supreme Court’s Gender and Justice Commission since 1999. Despite having a demanding court schedule for the past 17 years and raising four children, with her husband, Madsen still spent many days and nights presenting information whenever she was needed, Concannon said. “She is a truly remarkable woman. I believe the state of Washington is very fortunate to have Barbara Madsen as chief justice of the Supreme Court.”
Madsen received a lengthy standing ovation upon taking the oath. Outgoing chief justice Gerry Alexander presented her with a special gavel made from the wood of a historic tree that once stood on the Capitol Campus.
Madsen thanked Alexander and her colleagues on the Court for their support, and spoke of the many lessons she has learned in her years in the legal profession and on the bench, “many of those lessons from people in this room”.
“As a public defender, I learned that there is good in everyone,” she said. “And as a judge, I learned that when you look up at the bench and see someone who looks like you, you start to think that maybe you’ll be listened to and understood.”
She thanked her many mentors and colleagues saying, “I hope you will all be proud of me.”
# # #
Washington Courts Media Contacts:
|Courts | Organizations | News | Opinions | Rules | Forms | Directory | Library|
|Back to Top | Privacy and Disclaimer Notices|