Washington Supreme Court Decisions

The Washington State Supreme Court meets in the Temple of Justice in Olympia. The Court takes its authority from Article IV of the Washington Constitution of 1889. Section 4 of this Article defines the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, which covers original jurisdiction over writs such as habeas corpus and mandamus, as well as the authority to issue any other writs that are necessary to exercise its appellate jurisdiction. The Court holds the authority to review any criminal or civil cases, except for most civil cases in which the amount in controversy does not exceed $200. It also regulates the legal profession in Washington, and it has issued a Code of Judicial Conduct to guide the actions of state judges.

To serve on the Supreme Court, a candidate must be licensed to practice law in Washington State, as required by Section 17 of Article IV. Under Section 15 of Article IV, a justice may not hold any other form of public employment while they are serving on the Court. Under Section 19, they also may not practice law in any state court in Washington. The state constitution sets a mandatory retirement age of 75, and it allows the legislature to reduce the retirement age to 70 at its discretion.

Nine justices serve on the Washington Supreme Court. Under the Washington Constitution, the legislature retains the power to change the size of the Court. Each term lasts six years. Justices generally are elected through non-partisan elections, which means that their party affiliation does not appear on the ballot. If a vacancy arises before the end of a term, however, the Governor of Washington has the authority to appoint an interim justice. The Chief Justice is elected by the other justices and serves a term of four years. They supervise the administration of the trial and appellate courts in Washington, and they serve as the chair of the Board for Judicial Administration, which allows them to shape the policies of the judiciary.

Browse Opinions From the Washington Supreme Court

Recent Decisions From the Washington Supreme Court
In re Pers. Restraint of Knight (Majority, Dissent and Concurrence/Dissent)  
Date: November 9, 2023
Docket Number: 101,068-1

Justia Opinion Summary: In a prior case before the Washington Supreme Court, the Court rejected Petitioner Amanda Knight’s claim her separate convictions for felony murder (based on first-degree robbery) and first degree robbery violated the…

DeSean v. Sanger (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: October 5, 2023
Docket Number: 101,330-2

Justia Opinion Summary: Carmella DeSean sought a Sexual Assault Protection Order Act (SAPOA) order against Isaiah Sanger after an evening of drinking ended in unwanted sex. At the evidentiary hearing, Sanger argued DeSean consented and had…

Gonzales v. Inslee (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: September 28, 2023
Docket Number: 100,992-5

Justia Opinion Summary: Acting under enhanced powers to act in an emergency under RCW 43.06.220 and related statutes, the Washington Governor Inslee imposed a moratorium on evicting people from their homes for failing to pay rent from March…

Washington v. Avington (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: September 28, 2023
Docket Number: 101,398-1

Justia Opinion Summary: Petitioner Dominique Avington argued his own trial testimony was sufficient to require a lesser included offense instruction for the shooting death of Terrance King. Specifically, Avington testified that although he…

Washington v. Valdiglesias LaValle (Majority)  
Date: September 28, 2023
Docket Number: 101,442-2

Justia Opinion Summary: A jury convicted Respondent Vanessa Valdiglesias LaValle of two counts of criminal solicitation after she told her minor son, S.G., that he could be with her “forever” if he poisoned his father. The Court of Appeals…

Washington v. McWhorter (Majority)  
Date: September 28, 2023
Docket Number: 101,691-3

Justia Opinion Summary: Respondent John McWhorter pleaded guilty in adult court to crimes he committed when he was a juvenile. He later moved for resentencing to enable the trial court to consider the mitigating qualities of his youth. The…

Washington v. Reynolds (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: September 21, 2023
Docket Number: 100,873-2

Justia Opinion Summary: Michael Reynolds Jr. received a mandatory sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole for a crime he committed at age 33. The events triggering that sentence, though, were his two “strikes” under…

Nelson v. P.S.C., Inc. (Majority)  
Date: September 21, 2023
Docket Number: 101,444-9

Justia Opinion Summary: Plaintiffs Matthew and Melanie Nelson (collectively Nelsons) married in 2020. The following year, defendant Puget Sound Collections Inc. (PSC), a debt collection agency, garnished Matthew’s wages in an attempt to satisfy…

Stratford v. Umpqua Bank (Majority)  
Date: September 14, 2023
Docket Number: 100,717-5

Justia Opinion Summary: At issue in this case was the “apex doctrine” which shielded certain high-ranking officials from deposition unless the proponent could first show that the witness had personal knowledge of the facts and that a less…

Snaza v. Washington (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: September 14, 2023
Docket Number: 101,375-2

Justia Opinion Summary: Following waves of protests across the country calling for racial justice and reform of police practices, the Washington Legislature enacted several statutes in 2021 establishing requirements for tactics and equipment…

Washington v. Westwood (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: September 7, 2023
Docket Number: 100,570-9

Justia Opinion Summary: Dahndre Westwood entered A.B.’s house around 4:30 a.m. A.B. saw Westwood standing in her hallway and holding a knife in his hand. Westwood told her to get undressed and threatened to kill her if she did not cooperate.…

Wahkiakum Sch. Dist. No. 200 v. Washington (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: September 7, 2023
Docket Number: 101,052-4

Justia Opinion Summary: In this action, the Wahkiakum School District (WSD) alleged the State of Washington “fail[ed] to amply fund the [WSD]’s needed facilities [and] infrastructure.” WSD argued that this failure violated the Washington…

Wolf v. Washington (Majority)  
Date: September 7, 2023
Docket Number: 101,477-5

Justia Opinion Summary: At issue in this case is the triggering event for the statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse actions. Timothy Jones’ estate (Estate) brought negligence and wrongful death claims against the State of Washington.…

Dalton M, LLC v. N. Cascade Tr. Servs., Inc. (Majority)  
Date: August 31, 2023
Docket Number: 101,149-1

Justia Opinion Summary: U.S. Bank National Association foreclosed on property owned by real estate company Dalton M, LLC. The bank did not have the right to do that: Dalton M actually owned the property outright, not subject to any lien. Dalton…

Wash. Fed'n of State Emps., Council 28, v. State (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: August 24, 2023
Docket Number: 101,093-1

Justia Opinion Summary: Petitioner the Freedom Foundation requested the identities and workplace contact information for Washington state public employees. To prevent disclosure of this information, affected employees sought declaratory and…

The opinions published on Justia State Caselaw are sourced from individual state court sites. These court opinions may not be the official published versions, and you should check your local court rules before citing to them. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site, or the information linked to on the state site.

Some case metadata and case summaries were written with the help of AI, which can produce inaccuracies. You should read the full case before relying on it for legal research purposes.

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