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
Johnson v. Inslee (Majority)  
Date: October 22, 2021
Docket Number: 100,255-6

Justia Opinion Summary: Petitioners Governor Jay Inslee, the State of Washington, the Washington Department of Corrections, and Cheryl Strange, secretary of the Department of Corrections, sought the Washington Supreme Court's accelerated direct...

Washington v. Weaver (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: October 14, 2021
Docket Number: 99041-7

Justia Opinion Summary: Petitioner Sammy Weaver was charged with one count of residential burglary under RCW 9A.52.025. In the jury instructions, the parties agreed to include the lesser included offense of criminal trespass in the first degree...

In re Pers. Restraint of Williams (Majority)  
Date: October 7, 2021
Docket Number: 99344-1

Justia Opinion Summary: In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, petitioner Robert Williams filed a personal restraint petition (PRP) arguing that the conditions of his confinement constituted cruel punishment in violation of the state and...

Washington Bankers Ass'n v. Dep't of Revenue (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: September 30, 2021
Docket Number: 98760-2

Justia Opinion Summary: This case involves the constitutionality of a business and occupation (B&O) tax. In 2019, the Washington state legislature imposed an additional 1.2 percent B&O tax on financial institutions with a consolidated net incom...

Spokane Airport Bd. v. Experimental Aircraft Ass'n, Chapter 79 (Majority)  
Date: September 30, 2021
Docket Number: 99180-4

Justia Opinion Summary: The question this case presented for the Washington Supreme Court was whether a tenant in a fixed-term commercial lease could become a holdover tenant when the tenancy ends pursuant to an early termination provision. The...

Washington v. Haag (Majority, Concurrence and Concurrence/Dissent)  
Date: September 23, 2021
Docket Number: 97766-6

Justia Opinion Summary: In 1995, petitioner Timothy Haag was sentenced to mandatory life without parole for a crime he committed at the age of 17. In 2018, at a Miller-fix resentencing conducted pursuant to RCW 10.95.030, the resentencing court...

Seven Hills, LLC v. Chelan County (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: September 23, 2021
Docket Number: 98730-1

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2014, Seven Hills LLC began developing a cannabis production and processing business in Chelan County, Washington. After Seven Hills procured the relevant permits and began building on its property, Chelan County (Cou...

Washington v. Vazquez (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: September 9, 2021
Docket Number: 98928-1

Justia Opinion Summary: Petitioner Jessica Vazquez was convicted of maintaining a dwelling for controlled substances, possessing methamphetamine, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Sarah McFadden, Vazquez’s attorney, objected only once durin...

Lake Hills Invs., LLC v. Rushforth Constr. Co., Inc. (Majority)  
Date: September 2, 2021
Docket Number: 99119-7

Justia Opinion Summary: Lake Hills Investments LLC sued AP Rushforth (AP) for breach of contract, alleging, among other things, that the work AP conducted on the Lake Hills Village project was defective. AP counterclaimed that Lake Hills underp...

Alpert v. Nationstar Mortg., LLC (Majority)  
Date: September 2, 2021
Docket Number: 99377-7

Justia Opinion Summary: The U.S. Appeals Court for the Ninth Circuit certified several questions of law to the Washington Supreme Court. When the homeowner failed to insure his property, the mortgage servicer purchased insurance to cover the pr...

In re Citizen Complaint by Stout v. Felix (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: August 26, 2021
Docket Number: 98613-4

Justia Opinion Summary: The issue this case presented for the Washington Supreme Court’s review centered on whether a citizen’s affidavit was sufficient to initiate criminal proceedings under the citizen complaint rule, CrRLJ 2.1(c). Geene Feli...

City of Seattle v. Long (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: August 12, 2021
Docket Number: 98824-2

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2016, Steven Long was living in his truck. Long, then a 56-year-old member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation, worked as a general tradesman and stored work tools as well as personal...

Turner v. Dep't of Soc. & Health Servs. (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: August 12, 2021
Docket Number: 99243-6

Justia Opinion Summary: Kent Turner suffered from multiple sclerosis (MS), which caused loss of his motor skills. When his wife, Kathy Turner, could not, due to her own health issues, provide necessary in-home assistance, Kent moved into a nurs...

Wood v. Milionis Constr., Inc. (Majority)  
Date: August 5, 2021
Docket Number: 98791-2

Justia Opinion Summary: The issue central to this appeal centered on a “covenant judgment” arrangement: an insured defendant, facing suit by a plaintiff, settles claims without the insurer’s consent in exchange for a release from liability and...

Rinehold v. Renne (Majority)  
Date: July 29, 2021
Docket Number: 98694-1

Justia Opinion Summary: The Rinehold and Renne families disputed the location of the shared boundary line between their respective Mason County, Washington properties. They agreed the property was subdivided in the 1950s by surveyor W.O. Watson...

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.