Washington Supreme Court

Last updated

Coordinates: 47°02′13″N122°54′18″W / 47.03694°N 122.90500°W / 47.03694; -122.90500

Contents

Washington Supreme Court
Seal of the Supreme Court of Washington.png
EstablishedNovember 9, 1889
Location Olympia, Washington, United States
Composition methodElection
Authorized by Washington State Constitution
Appeals to Supreme Court of the United States
Judge term length6 years
Number of positions9
Website Official website
Chief Justice
Currently Steven González
SinceJanuary 11, 2021
Jurist term ends2038
Associate Chief Justice
Currently Charles W. Johnson

The Washington Supreme Court is the highest court in the judiciary of the U.S. state of Washington. The court is composed of a chief justice and eight justices. Members of the court are elected to six-year terms. Justices must retire at the end of the calendar year in which they reach the age of 75, per the Washington State Constitution. [1]

The chief justice is chosen by secret ballot by the Justices to serve a 4-year term. The current chief justice is Steven C. González, who was elected by his peers on November 5, 2020. [2] González was sworn in as Chief Justice on January 11, 2021, succeeding Debra L. Stephens.

Prior to January 1997 (pursuant to a Constitutional amendment adopted in 1995), the post of chief justice was held for a 2-year term by a justice who (i) was one of the Justices with 2 years left in their term, (ii) was the most senior in years of service of that cohort, and (iii) (generally) had not previously served as chief justice. The last chief justice under the rotation system, Barbara Durham was the architect of the present internal election system, and was the first to be elected under the new procedure, serving until her resignation in 1999.

The court convenes in the Temple of Justice, a historic building on the Washington State Capitol campus in Olympia, Washington.

The persuasiveness of the court's decisions reaches far beyond Washington's borders. A Supreme Court of California study published in 2007 found that the Washington Supreme Court's decisions were the second most widely followed by the appellate courts of all other U.S. states in the period from 1940 to 2005 (second only to California). [3]

Selection

Members of the court are elected to six-year terms, with three justices elected in each even-numbered year in a nonpartisan election with a top-two primary. Judicial elections in Washington, including for the Supreme Court, are frequently uncontested and incumbents typically win reelection. [4] The last time a justice lost reelection was in 2010 when Charlies Wiggins defeated Richard B. Sanders, [5] who had previously defeated Rosselle Pekelis in 1995. [6] When chief justice Keith M. Callow lost to Charles W. Johnson in 1990, it was the first time in 40 years an incumbent had lost. [7]

The only required qualification for justices is that they are admitted to practice law in Washington. [8]

In case of a vacancy, the Governor of Washington may appoint a replacement who must stand in the next election to fill the unexpired term. [8] Five of the current nine judges were originally appointed.

Current justices

As of January 11, 2021: [9]

SeatPositionNameBornJoined the courtCurrent term endsReaches age 75Appointed byLegal education
8Chief Justice Steven González 1963 (age 5758)January 1, 2012 (as Associate Justice)
January 11, 2021 (as Chief)
January 12, 20252038 Christine Gregoire (D) University of California, Berkeley
4Associate Chief Justice Charles W. Johnson 1951 (age 6970)January 1, 1991January 10, 20272026 Seattle University
5Associate Justice Barbara Madsen 1952 (age 6869)January 1, 1993January 8, 20232027 Gonzaga University
2Associate Justice Susan Owens 1949 (age 7172)January 1, 2001January 12, 20252025 University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
7Associate Justice Debra L. Stephens 1965 (age 5556)January 1, 2008January 10, 20272040 Christine Gregoire (D) Gonzaga University
9Associate Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud October 5, 1955 (age 65)January 1, 2013January 1, 20252030 University of Southern California
1Associate Justice Mary Yu 1957 (age 6364)May 20, 2014January 8, 20232032 Jay Inslee (D) University of Notre Dame
3Associate Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis 1967/1968(age 52–54)January 5, 2020January 10, 20272043 Jay Inslee (D) University of Washington
6Associate Justice Helen Whitener 1964/1965(age 56–57)April 13, 2020January 10, 20272040 Jay Inslee (D) Seattle University

History

The early history of the Washington Supreme Court has been described as follows:

The constitution fixed the terms of supreme court judges at six years, and provided that the first judges should determine by lot, two to serve for three years, two for five years, and one for seven years. This was to prevent a too sweeping change of the court at any one time. The judge with the shortest term to serve is elected by the court as chief justice, which allows most of the judges to enjoy that honor in turn. Judge Dunbar is the only one who has served continuously through the life of this court. There are a few irregularities in the length of the terms. Judge Gordon resigned in June, 1900. Governor Rogers appointed William H. White to take his place. In November of the same year Judge White was regularly elected, but the term ended the following January. The Legislature in 1901 provided for the appointment of two judges to serve only until October, 1902. Governor Rogers appointed to these positions William H. White and Hiram E. Hadley. In 1905, the Legislature permanently increased the court from five to seven. Governor Mead appointed Herman D. Crow and Milo A. Root. At the next election, in 1906, those two judges were regularly elected for the terms expiring in 1909. After his election in November, 1908, Judge Root resigned. [10]

Candidates for election were originally nominated at party conventions, but in 1907 it became a direct nonpartisan election. [11]

Carolyn R. Dimmick was the first woman to sit on the court, taking her seat in 1981. Barbara Durham was the first female chief justice, selected in 1995. Charles Z. Smith, appointed 1988, was the first African American to serve on the court. Mary Yu became the first LGBT, Asian American, and Latina member in 2014. [12] A majority of justices has been female since 2013. After the appointment of Helen Whitener in 2020, the court was called "arguably the most diverse court, state or federal, in American history", [13] with various incumbents reflecting the state's white, black, Hispanic, Asian American, Native American, LGBT, immigrant, Jewish, and disabled populations.

Notable cases

Related Research Articles

Politics of the Czech Republic Political system of the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is a unitary parliamentary constitutional republic, in which the President is the head of state and the Prime Minister is the head of government.
Executive power is exercised by the Government of the Czech Republic which reports to the Chamber of Deputies. The Legislature is exercised by the Parliament. Czech Parliament is bicameral, the upper house of the Parliament is the Senate, the lower house of the Parliament is the Chamber of Deputies. The Senate consists of 81 members who are elected for six years. The Chamber of Deputies consists of 200 members who are elected for four years. The Judiciary system is topped by the trio of Constitutional Court, Supreme Court and Supreme Administrative Court.
The highest legal document is the Constitution of the Czech Republic, complemented by constitutional laws and the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. The current constitution went in effect on 1st January 1993, after the Dissolution of Czechoslovakia.

Supreme Court of Ohio Highest court in the U.S. state of Ohio

The Supreme Court of the State of Ohio is the highest court in the U.S. state of Ohio, with final authority over interpretations of Ohio law and the Ohio Constitution. The court has seven members, a chief justice and six associate justices, each serving six-year terms and a total of 1550 other employees. Since 2004, the court has met in the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center on the east bank of the Scioto River in Downtown Columbus. Prior to 2004, the court met in the James A. Rhodes State Office Tower and earlier in the Judiciary Annex of the Ohio Statehouse.

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Highest court in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is the highest court in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Unified Judicial System. It also claims to be the oldest appellate court in the United States, a claim that is disputed by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania began in 1684 as the Provincial Court, and casual references to it as the "Supreme Court" of Pennsylvania were made official in 1722 upon its reorganization as an entity separate from the control of the royal governor. Today, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania maintains a discretionary docket, meaning that the Court may choose which cases it accepts, with the exception of mandatory death penalty appeals, and certain appeals from the original jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Court. This discretion allows the Court to wield powerful influence on the formation and interpretation of Pennsylvania law.

Iowa Supreme Court Highest court in the U.S. state of Iowa

The Iowa Supreme Court is the highest court in the U.S. state of Iowa. The Court is composed of a Chief Justice and six Associate Justices.

Michigan Supreme Court Highest court in the U.S. state of Michigan

The Michigan Supreme Court is the highest court in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is Michigan's court of last resort and consists of seven justices. The Court is located in the Michigan Hall of Justice at 925 Ottawa Street in Lansing, the state capital.

Supreme Court of Florida Highest court in the U.S. state of Florida

The Supreme Court of Florida is the highest court in the U.S. state of Florida. It consists of seven members—the chief justice and six justices. Five members are chosen from five districts around the state to foster geographic diversity and two are selected at-large.

Supreme Court of Texas Highest court in the U.S. state of Texas for civil appeals

The Supreme Court of Texas (SCOTX) is the court of last resort for civil matters in the U.S. state of Texas. A different court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA), is the court of last resort in criminal matters.

Oklahoma Supreme Court One of the two highest judicial bodies in the U.S. state of Oklahoma

The Supreme Court of Oklahoma is a court of appeal for non-criminal cases, one of the two highest judicial bodies in the U.S. state of Oklahoma, and leads the judiciary of Oklahoma, the judicial branch of the government of Oklahoma.

The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia is the state supreme court of the state of West Virginia, the highest of West Virginia's state courts. The court sits primarily at the West Virginia State Capitol in Charleston, although from 1873 to 1915, it was also required by state law to hold sessions in Charles Town in the state's Eastern Panhandle. The court also holds special sittings at various locations across the state.

Supreme Court of Alabama Highest court in the U.S. state of Alabama

The Supreme Court of Alabama is the highest court in the state of Alabama. The court consists of a Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices. Each justice is elected in partisan elections for staggered six-year terms. The Supreme Court is housed in the Heflin-Torbert Judicial Building in downtown Montgomery, Alabama.

Wyoming Supreme Court Highest court in the U.S. state of Wyoming

The Wyoming Supreme Court is the highest court in the U.S. state of Wyoming. The Court consists of a Chief Justice and four Associate Justices. Each Justice is appointed by the Governor of Wyoming from a list of three nominees submitted by the judicial nominating commission, for an eight-year term. One year after being appointed, a new justice stands for retention in office on a statewide ballot at the next general election. If a majority votes for retention, the justice serves the remainder of the term and may stand for retention for succeeding eight-year terms by means of a nonpartisan retention ballot every eight years. A justice must be a lawyer with at least nine years' experience in the law, at least 30 years old, and a United States citizen who has resided in Wyoming for at least three years. Justices must retire when they reach 70 years of age.

Nebraska Supreme Court Highest court in the State of Nebraska

The Nebraska Supreme Court is the highest court in the U.S. state of Nebraska. The court consists of a chief justice and six associate justices. Each justice is initially appointed by the governor of Nebraska; using the Missouri Plan, each justice is then subject to a retention vote for additional six-year terms. The six justices each represent a Supreme Court district; the chief justice is appointed at-large.

Louisiana Supreme Court Highest court in the U.S. state of Louisiana

The Supreme Court of Louisiana is the highest court and court of last resort in the U.S. state of Louisiana. The modern Supreme Court, composed of seven justices, meets in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

Barbara Madsen is a member of the Washington Supreme Court. She joined the court in 1993 as the first woman to be popularly elected to the Court in Washington state history. She was re-elected in 1998, 2004, and 2010, and 2016. In her years on the Washington Supreme Court, Madsen has sat in judgement on thousands of cases.

Debra Leigh Stephens is an Associate Justice of the Washington Supreme Court. She was appointed to the court in December 2007 by Governor Christine Gregoire and took office on January 1, 2008. She was elected by voters in 2008 and re-elected in 2014 and 2020. Prior to her appointment, Justice Stephens served as a judge for Division Three of the Washington Court of Appeals and as an adjunct professor at Gonzaga University School of Law. She is the first judge from Division Three of the Court of Appeals to serve on the Washington State Supreme Court, and the first woman from Eastern Washington to do so.

Government of Tennessee

The government of Tennessee is organized under the provisions of the 1870 Constitution of Tennessee, first adopted in 1796. As set forth by the state constitution, Tennessee's government is divided into three branches: executive, judicial, and legislative branches.

Supreme Court of Mississippi Highest court in the U.S. state of Mississippi

The Supreme Court of Mississippi is the highest court in the state of Mississippi. It was created in the first constitution of the state following its admission as a State of the Union in 1817. Initially it was known as the "High Court of Errors and Appeals." The court is an appellate court, as opposed to a trial court. The Court Building is located in downtown Jackson, Mississippi, the state capital.

Mary Isabel Yu is an Associate Justice of the Washington Supreme Court and former judge of the King County Superior Court. She is the state's first openly gay, Asian American, and Latina Justice. She is also the 6th woman currently serving and the 11th woman ever to serve on Washington state's Supreme Court.

Steven Charles González is an American lawyer and judge who has served as the Chief Justice of the Washington Supreme Court since January 11, 2021. He was appointed as an Associate Justice by Governor Christine Gregoire and took office on January 1, 2012. González replaced Justice Gerry L. Alexander, who retired upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75.

Robert F. Utter American judge (1930-2014)

Robert French Utter was an American attorney and jurist from Washington. He served as a King County Superior Court judge from 1964 until his appointment to the Washington Court of Appeals in 1968. In 1971 he was appointed to the Washington Supreme Court, where he served for 23 years, including two years as the Chief Justice. Utter is known for his opposition to the death penalty. He dissented in two dozen cases on capital punishment while on the court and resigned in 1995 in protest of it. After resigning from the court, Utter taught the first state constitutional law course in Washington State at the University of Puget Sound School of Law and traveled around the world to help developing nations create independent judiciaries. He died in 2014.

References

  1. "Washington State Constitution, Article IV § 3(a)". Archived from the original on July 24, 2019. Retrieved March 13, 2012.
  2. "Washington State Courts - News, Reports, Court Information". www.courts.wa.gov. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  3. Dear, Jake; Jessen, Edward W (2007). "'Followed Rates' and Leading State Cases, 1940–2005" (PDF). U.C. Davis Law Review. 41: 683–694. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 18, 2014. Retrieved January 17, 2012.
  4. Cohen, Josh. "Most of WA's judges are running unopposed. Does it matter?". crosscut.com. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  5. Sanders, Eli (November 10, 2010). "How Justice Richard B. Sanders Lost It". The Stranger. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  6. "Supreme Court justice is ousted". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Archived from the original on January 11, 2021. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  7. London, Robb; Times, Special To the New York (September 28, 1990). "LAW; For Want of Recognition, Chief Justice Is Ousted". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  8. 1 2 "Washington State Courts - Supreme Court". www.courts.wa.gov. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  9. "Washington State Courts - News, Reports, Court Information". www.courts.wa.gov. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  10. Edmond Stephen Meany, History of the State of Washington (1909), p. 366.
  11. "Brief History of the Washington State Supreme Court". Washington State Courts. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  12. La Corte, Rachel (May 1, 2014). "Mary Yu appointed to state Supreme Court". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on May 2, 2014. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  13. Stern, Mark Joseph (April 17, 2020). "Washington State Now Has the Most Diverse Supreme Court In History". Slate Magazine. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  14. Note, Recent Case: Washington State Supreme Court Declares Death Penalty Unconstitutional In Washington , 132 Harv. L. Rev. 1764 (2019).
  15. State v. Gregory, 427P.3d621 (Wash.2018).
  16. State v. Blake(Wash.2021). Text
  17. Johnson, Gene (February 25, 2021). "Washington state justices strike down drug possession law". AP News. Archived from the original on March 3, 2021. Retrieved March 6, 2021.