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Judge Virginia M. Amato


A graduate of Gonzaga University School of Law, Judge Amato was elected as a King County District Court (KCDC) judge in 2018. Previously, she served as a pro tem judge from 2014 to 2018, presiding over small claims, infraction and criminal dockets in a variety of KCDC’s courthouse locations throughout the county. In 24 years practicing criminal law, she has been both a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, working in several communities around Washington.

Born and raised in Wallace, Idaho, Judge Amato attended the College of Idaho in Caldwell, Idaho, before transferring to Eastern Washington University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education in 1982. She continued her education at the University of Idaho, receiving a Master of Science degree in 1984. Judge Amato then spent the next few years working, playing and umpiring softball in Boise and Spokane before entering law school in 1991.

At the Gonzaga University School of Law, she was a member of the National Appellate Advocacy Competition team, the Moot Court Honors Council, Phi Delta Phi – Brennan Inn and the Women’s Law Caucus. She graduated in 1994, took the bar exam and worked for Cece Glenn in Spokane – a small criminal defense and social security disability firm – before accepting a job with the City of Spokane as an assistant city prosecutor in 1996. In 1998, she moved to Pasco where she became the municipal prosecutor, serving the citizens of Pasco until 2002. Moving to Auburn in 2002, Virginia served as the city’s lead prosecutor before becoming a Department of Licensing hearing examiner. In 2004, she entered private practice with the Law Office of James V. Newton, PLLC, before opening her own successful criminal defense practice in Auburn in 2008.

Judge Amato is licensed to practice law in the State of Washington and in both the Eastern and Western Districts of the United States District Courts for Washington.