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
Washington v. Villela (Majority)  
Date: October 17, 2019
Docket Number: 96183-2

Justia Opinion Summary: Sergeant Paul Snyder stopped a jeep driven by defendant Joel Villela for speeding late one night in January 2018. The officer smelled alcohol on defendant's breath, and after defendant declined a roadside sobriety test,...

Weaver v. City of Everett (Majority)  
Date: October 17, 2019
Docket Number: 96189-1

Justia Opinion Summary: Michael Weaver, a former City of Everett firefighter, contracted melanoma. He filed a temporary disability claim, which the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (Department) denied, finding the melanoma was not wo...

Gipson v. Snohomish County (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: October 10, 2019
Docket Number: 96164-6

Justia Opinion Summary: Petitioner Ron Gipson challenged Snohomish County’s response to a records request under Washington’s Public Records Act. Gipson requested records that related to allegations of workplace sexual harassment against him. At...

Washington v. Imokawa (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: October 10, 2019
Docket Number: 96217-1

Justia Opinion Summary: Dean Imokawa’s truck collided with another vehicle during a lane change, propelling him into oncoming traffic and causing another collision with another vehicle. The State charged Imokawa with vehicular homicide and vehi...

T-Mobile USA, Inc. v. Selective Ins. Co. of Am. (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: October 10, 2019
Docket Number: 96500-5

Justia Opinion Summary: The United States District Court for the Ninth Circuit certified a question of law to the Washington Supreme Court. Specifically, the federal appellate court asked whether an insurance company was bound by its agent’s wr...

Washington v. Schwartz (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: October 10, 2019
Docket Number: 96643-5

Justia Opinion Summary: Matthew Schwartz pled guilty to failure to register as a sex offender. At sentencing, the State and Schwartz disputed whether two of Schwartz’s prior class C felony convictions should not have been included in his offend...

Fed. Home Loan Bank of Seattle v. Credit Suisse Sec. (USA) LLC (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: October 3, 2019
Docket Number: 95420-8

Justia Opinion Summary: This case stemmed from the 2007-2009 financial crisis and recession. In 2005 and 2007, Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle purchased for residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) from investment bank Credit Suisse. Fed...

Strauss v. Premera Blue Cross (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: October 3, 2019
Docket Number: 95449-6

Justia Opinion Summary: John and Michelle Strauss challenged the Court of Appeals decision affirming summary dismissal of their action against Premera Blue Cross, which arose out of the denial of coverage for proton beam therapy (PBT) to treat...

Washington v. B.O.J. (Majority, Concurrence and Dissent)  
Date: October 3, 2019
Docket Number: 95542-5

Justia Opinion Summary: In a moot case of substantial and continuing public interest, a juvenile offender challenges whether her need for treatment was an appropriate basis for imposing a manifest justice disposition. B.O.J. pled guilty to two...

Keodalah v. Allstate Ins. Co. (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: October 3, 2019
Docket Number: 95867-0

Justia Opinion Summary: While driving his truck, Moun Keodalah and an uninsured motorcyclist collided. After Keodalah stopped at a stop sign and began to cross the street, the motorcyclist struck Keodalah's truck. The collision killed the motor...

Washington v. Peck (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: September 26, 2019
Docket Number: 96069-1

Justia Opinion Summary: In January 2016, Michael Peck and Clark Tellvik were seen on a security camera, burglarizing a home. The owner of the home was demonstrating her home's new surveillance system to a friend on her phone when she saw the cr...

Porter v. Kirkendoll (Majority)  
Date: September 26, 2019
Docket Number: 96214-6

Justia Opinion Summary: Pepper and Clarice Kirkendoll hired loggers to harvest their trees. But Pepper Kirkendoll misrepresented the boundaries of his and Clarice's land, and the loggers harvested trees belonging to the neighbors, Jerry Porter...

Hoffman v. Kittitas County (Majority)  
Date: September 26, 2019
Docket Number: 96286-3

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2015, Petitioner Randall Hoffman submitted a public records request to the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office seeking police reports referencing an individual, Erin Schnebly. The clerk at the sheriff’s office did not lo...

Washington v. Wallmuller (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: September 26, 2019
Docket Number: 96313-4

Justia Opinion Summary: Frank Wallmuller pleaded guilty in 2014 to first degree rape of a child and sexual exploitation of a minor. He successfully appealed on grounds of sentencing error and imposition of improper community custody conditions,...

Money Mailer, LLC v. Brewer (Majority)  
Date: September 19, 2019
Docket Number: 96304-5

Justia Opinion Summary: The federal district court for the Western District of Washington certified a question of state law to the Washington Supreme Court. Money Mailer, LLC and Wade Brewer entered into a franchisor/franchisee relationship. In...

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.