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 Dependency of A.M.-S. (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: October 22, 2020
Docket Number: 98094-2

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2018, a dependency petition was filed alleging that A.M.-S' father had physically abused the child. Although the father denied the allegations against him, he stipulated to a finding of dependency “given the nature of...

Reykdal v. Espinoza (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: October 22, 2020
Docket Number: 98731-9

Justia Opinion Summary: Incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal sued to have the Thurston County Superior Court order the removal of one allegedly defamatory line in the voters’ guide pamphlet from challenger Maia Espinoza’...

Ronald Wastewater Dist. v. Olympic View Water& Sewer Dist. (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: October 15, 2020
Docket Number: 97599-0

Justia Opinion Summary: This case involved a dispute over control of sewerage service to Point Wells, located just north of the King County, Washington border, within the boundaries of Snohomish County and Olympic View Water and Sewer District...

Garfield Cty. Transp. Auth. v. Washington (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: October 15, 2020
Docket Number: 98320-8

Justia Opinion Summary: Initiative Measure 976 (I-976) was the latest in a series of initiatives about reducing or eliminating local motor vehicle excise taxes, including taxes that have been pledged to support major transportation projects in...

In re Pers. Restraint of Knight (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: October 8, 2020
Docket Number: 97066-1

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2010, Amanda Knight and accomplices ransacked James and Charlene Sanders’ home, zip-tied them, placed them face down on the floor, stole their wedding rings off their fingers at gunpoint, pistol-whipped Charlene and h...

Young v. Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: September 24, 2020
Docket Number: 97576-1

Justia Opinion Summary: Duane Young bought a new 2014 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck with a limited package of additional features from a dealership in Burlington, Washington. Young paid about $36,000 for the truck. At the time Young was researchin...

In re Pers. Restraint of Cranshaw (Majority)  
Date: September 24, 2020
Docket Number: 97778-0

Justia Opinion Summary: A jury found Ira Cranshaw guilty of several crimes committed against two victims. The convictions included attempted first degree murder of B.B. (count I), three counts of first degree rape of B.B. (counts II, III, and I...

In re Dependency of Z.J.G. (Majority)
Date: September 18, 2020
Docket Number: 98003-9
Borton & Sons, Inc. v. Burbank Properties, LLC (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: September 10, 2020
Docket Number: 97690-2

Justia Opinion Summary: When a lessee does not timely exercise an option contained in a lease agreement, special circumstances may warrant granting them extra time to exercise the option. In this case, petitioner Burbank Properties LLC mailed i...

In re Dependency of Z.J.G. (Majority)  
Date: September 3, 2020
Docket Number: 98003-9

Justia Opinion Summary: The "[Indian Child Welfare Act] ICWA and [Washington State Indian Child Welfare Act] WICWA were enacted to remedy the historical and persistent state-sponsored destruction of Native families and communities. . . . The ac...

Burgess v. Lithia Motors, Inc. (Majority)  
Date: September 3, 2020
Docket Number: 98083-7

Justia Opinion Summary: Evette Burgess and Lithia Motors, Inc. entered into arbitration to resolve an employment dispute. During arbitration proceedings, Burgess filed a motion with the court to terminate arbitration, alleging that Lithia and t...

Gerlach v. The Cove Apartments, LLC (Majority, Concurrence and Dissent)  
Date: August 27, 2020
Docket Number: 97325-3

Justia Opinion Summary: After a night of drinking with friends, Kimberly Gerlach fell from the second-story balcony of her boyfriend’s unit at the Cove Apartments when the railing gave way. Gerlach sued, arguing Cove’s failure to repair the rai...

Burnett v. Pagliacci Pizza, Inc. (Majority)  
Date: August 20, 2020
Docket Number: 97429-2

Justia Opinion Summary: Pagliacci Pizza hired Steven Burnett as a delivery driver. Steven Burnett attended a mandatory new employee orientation at a local Pagliacci Pizza. During the orientation, Pagliacci gave Burnett multiple forms and told h...

Washington v. Loughbom (Majority)  
Date: August 20, 2020
Docket Number: 97443-8

Justia Opinion Summary: In May 2017, petitioner Gregg Loughbom was charged with three counts of various drug crimes: count I, delivery of controlled substances acetaminophen and hydrocodone; count II, delivery of controlled substance methamphe...

Spokane County v. Washington (Majority)  
Date: August 20, 2020
Docket Number: 97739-9

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2018, the Washington legislature enacted Substitute House Bill 2887 (SHB 2887), requiring noncharter counties with populations of 400,000 or more to elect five county commissioners by 2022, when originally such counti...

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.