Senate pays tribute to late Spokane jurist Sam Cozza

Final bill advocated by Judge Cozza signed into law Monday

Sen. Mike Padden speaks Tuesday on Senate Resolution 8656, honoring Salvatore “Sam” Cozza.


Salvatore “Sam” Cozza.

OLYMPIA – The Washington Senate paid tribute Tuesday to the late Judge Salvatore “Sam” Cozza, former presiding judge of the Spokane County Superior Court, with a resolution honoring his life and legacy.

Cozza, a leading figure in the state’s judicial circles, died in January after a brief illness.

Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, sponsor of Senate Resolution 8656, recalled Cozza as a brilliant jurist who won the respect of his community and the Legislature. “He was probably the leading expert on criminal rules in this state,” Padden said.

On behalf of the state Superior Court Judges Association, Cozza frequently testified before the Legislature on matters of legal procedure. A final bill he advocated, SB 5277, clarifying procedures for the disqualification of judges, was signed into law Monday by Gov. Jay Inslee.

Cozza graduated from Gonzaga Prep, Gonzaga University and the University of Washington School of Law. He served 10 years as a deputy Spokane County prosecuting attorney prior to his election to the Spokane County District Court bench in 1990. Cozza was elected to the Superior Court position in 1996, a position he held for the remainder of his life. The resolution notes that “over the course of his career, Judge Cozza embodied the words he displayed on his bench: ‘Attentiveness, patience, fairness, completeness – Don’t rush the process or the decision.’”

To see video of floor ceremonies, click here.


Padden, chair of the Senate Law and Justice Committee, served with Cozza on the District Court bench. Padden described Cozza as a close friend and good family man who was active in his church, the Italian-American community and the Lions’ Club. Padden said the words of St. Paul could be applied to Cozza: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Also speaking for the resolution were Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, and Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane. Attending the ceremony were Cozza’s widow Megan, son Joey and daughter Claire, sister Sandra, and members of their extended family. A reception followed at the Temple of Justice.

Members of Cozza’s family attend Senate ceremonies.