On September 20, 2012, members of the legal community enjoyed an evening of inspiration celebrating the accomplishments of the 2012 Washington State Bar Association award recipients.
This award is presented to an elected official for outstanding service, with special contributions to the legal profession. It is awarded to an individual who has demonstrated a commitment to justice beyond the usual call of duty.
Regala is being recognized for her career-long commitment to championing individual rights, access to
criminal defense and civil legal aid, fair and equal application of the law, and state funding to support all
levels of the courts.
“The Washington State Bar Association is honored to present the Outstanding Elected Official Award to
Senator Regala in recognition of her many years of tireless service as a lawmaker and public servant, and
to express our appreciation for her dedicated pursuit of justice for all citizens of this state,” said
Crossland. “While she is rightly known as a champion of children’s rights, we would also like to
recognize her extraordinary efforts throughout her career to improve a broad range of civil and criminal
Regala serves the 27th Legislative District, which includes several areas of Tacoma. She served in the
House of Representatives from 1994–2000. She was elected to the State Senate in 2000, serving as the
assistant Democratic floor leader in 2003 and the majority whip from 2005–09. Regala is vice chair of the Human Services and Corrections Committee, vice chair of the Judiciary Committee, and serves on the
Ways and Means and Rules committees. She also serves on the Legislative Ethics Board, the Council for
Children and Families, the Correctional Industries Board, and the Office of Public Defense Advisory Board.
“Senator Regala works diligently at every step of the process to get important reforms passed and
implemented,” said James Bamberger, director of the Office of Civil Legal Aid. “She leads with dignity and
respect for all, regardless of their viewpoints, and has had the courage to take on tough issues and
issues that are not well understood by the public. Senator Regala has had a tremendously positive impact on
Washington's legal system and on ensuring fairness and justice for all.”
In 2005, Regala was an early supporter of the “Justice in Jeopardy” initiative, which infused new funding to
all levels of courts, civil legal aid, criminal public defense, and parents’ representation in dependency cases.
In 2007, she began a multi-year effort to address the state’s lack of rehabilitation services for prison inmates, co-chairing a statewide task force focused on problems faced by offenders coming out of prison and co-sponsoring legislation to improve released offenders’ opportunities to succeed in society. In 2008, she shepherded passage of the bill that reauthorized the state Office of Public Defense, allowing Washington’s public defense improvement programs to continue uninterrupted. In 2011, she sponsored legislation to allow juvenile sex offenders who maintain a clean record to seal their records, allowing them to move beyond a juvenile conviction and create productive adult lives. In 2012, she co-sponsored and worked passionately for the passage of the Marriage Equality Act.
“Senator Regala has…shepherded many bills to improve the justice system over the years,” said Washington
State Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara A. Madsen. “Her attention to issues of due process and fairness
has resulted in important reforms benefitting low-income, disabled, and youthful Washington residents.
Many lives have been changed for the better as a result of Senator Regala.”
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