Washington State Supreme Court Calendar
The Washington State Supreme Court
The state's "court of last resort" is asked to review more than a thousand cases each year. Most come from the state Court of Appeals, though cases can be appealed directly from Superior Court.
In the Supreme Court, no witnesses are called or other evidence taken. Rather, the Court hears only legal issues, and decides the case based on the factual record developed in the trial court.
The Court has discretion in deciding which cases to review. In a case already decided by the Court of Appeals, the Court will generally grant review only if it involves a question which has given rise to conflicting appellate court decisions, an important constitutional question, or a question of substantial public importance. Direct review of Superior Court decisions is granted in limited circumstances.
During each four month session the Court hears oral argument in approximately 45 cases. Responsibility for authoring opinions is distributed equally among the justices. At least five of the nine Justices have to agree to decide a case. Frequently, justices write opinions which concur (agree) with or dissent (disagree) from the majority opinion. The Court's opinions are published by Lawyers Cooperative Publishing and are available, for a fee, to the public or can be read in the State and/or County Law Libraries at no cost.
With the exception of the Chief Justice, who takes the middle position, justices are seated at the bench by order of seniority. The justice who has served the longest sits to the immediate right of the Chief Justice, the next most senior to the Chief Justice's immediate left, and so on. Justices of the Supreme Court are elected to staggered six year terms. The position of Chief Justice is selected by the Court's own membership to serve a four-year term.
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