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. Waits (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: November 17, 2022
Docket Number: 100,622-5

Justia Opinion Summary: In August 2020, Petitioner Jason Waits was tried and convicted of first degree child molestation and first degree attempted child molestation. The issues for the Washington Supreme Court’s review arose from the bad…

In re Bar Application of Stevens (Majority and Dissent)
Date: November 3, 2022
Docket Number: 201,997-8
Tadych v. Noble Ridge Constr., Inc. (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: October 27, 2022
Docket Number: 100,049-9

Justia Opinion Summary: Gregory and Sue Tadych filed suit after the one-year limitation period to bring a construction defect suit expired. The trial court entered summary judgment, dismissing the suit and upholding the contractual limitation.…

Washington v. Hawkins (Majority, Concurrence and Dissent)  
Date: October 27, 2022
Docket Number: 100,060-0

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2012, Sabelita Hawkins pleaded guilty to felony harassment and second degree malicious mischief. In 2019, she moved to vacate those convictions under RCW 9.94A.640., which granted trial courts discretion to vacate…

Washington v. Garza (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: October 20, 2022
Docket Number: 100,012-0

Justia Opinion Summary: Javier Garza was found guilty of third degree rape when he was 17 years old. Twenty-five years after his adjudication, Garza successfully petitioned for relief from registering as a sex offender. Garza then moved to…

Henderson v. Thompson (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: October 20, 2022
Docket Number: 97672-4

Justia Opinion Summary: Janelle Henderson, a Black woman, and Alicia Thompson, a white woman, were involved in a motor vehicle collision. Thompson admitted fault for the collision but made no offer to compensate Henderson for her injuries.…

In re Welfare of M.R. (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: October 13, 2022
Docket Number: 100,144-4

Justia Opinion Summary: This case presented an issue of first impression for the Washington Supreme Court relating to the business records exception to the rule against hearsay: the admissibility of a drug rehabilitation and testing center…

Associated Gen. Contractors of Wash. v. State (Majority)  
Date: October 13, 2022
Docket Number: 100,258-1

Justia Opinion Summary: This case concerned whether Washington Substitute Senate Bill (SSB) 5493, constituted an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority. SSB 5493 amended RCW 39.12.015 to modify how the Department of Labor and…

Washington v. Tesfasilasye (Majority)  
Date: October 6, 2022
Docket Number: 100,166-5

Justia Opinion Summary: As part of an effort to reduce racial bias in the judicial system, the Washington Supreme Court enacted GR 37, which directed trial judges to deny a peremptory challenge when an objective observer could view race as a…

Seattle Tunnel Partners v. Great Lakes Reinsurance (UK) PLC (Majority)  
Date: September 15, 2022
Docket Number: 100,168-1

Justia Opinion Summary: Petitioners Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP), sought reversal of a Court of Appeals decision affirming the partial summary judgment rulings that an “all risk”…

King County v. Sorensen (Majority and Concurrence)  
Date: September 8, 2022
Docket Number: 100,731-1

Justia Opinion Summary: King County, Washington petitioned the Washington Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus to compel the presiding judge of Pierce County Superior Court to turn over court reporters’ backup audiotapes and to search court…

Washington v. Anderson (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: September 8, 2022
Docket Number: 97890-5

Justia Opinion Summary: Tonelli Anderson petitioned the Washington Supreme Court for review of his 61-year sentence he received for two first degree murders committed at age 17. Anderson asked the Court to find his sentence was…

Schwartz v. King County (Majority and Dissent)  
Date: September 1, 2022
Docket Number: 99359-9

Justia Opinion Summary: Carl Schwartz filed suit against King County, Washington (County) for the catastrophic injuries he suffered when he collided with a bollard the County installed on the Green River Trail. The County moved for summary…

Hardel Mut. Plywood Corp. v. Lewis County (Majority)  
Date: August 25, 2022
Docket Number: 100,129-1

Justia Opinion Summary: Hardel Mutual Plywood Corporation owns property in Lewis County. Hardel challenged the value assessed by the Lewis County assessor, paid its taxes under protest, and brought this refund action in Thurston County Superior…

Hill & Stout, PLLC v. Mut. of Enumclaw Ins. Co. (Majority)  
Date: August 25, 2022
Docket Number: 100,211-4

Justia Opinion Summary: In early 2020, to help curtail the spread of COVID-19, Washington Governor Inslee issued Proclamation 20-24 prohibiting non emergency dental care. The issue this case presented for the Washington Supreme Court’s review…

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.