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Washington Supreme Court

Washington Supreme Court
Seal of the Supreme Court of Washington.png
Established November 9, 1889
Country United States
Location Olympia, Washington
Composition method Election
Authorized by Washington State Constitution
Decisions are appealed to Supreme Court of the United States
Judge term length 6 years
No. of positions 9
Website Official website
Chief Justice
Currently Mary Fairhurst
Since January 9, 2017
Jurist term ends 2023

The Washington Supreme Court is the highest court in the judiciary of the US 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 Mary Fairhurst who was elected by her peers on November 3, 2016. Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst was sworn in on January 9, 2017, and succeeds Barbara Madsen, one of the longest-serving Chief Justices in Washington state history.

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 US states in the period from 1940 to 2005 (second only to California).[2]


Title Name Joined the Court Current Term Ends Appointed By Legal Education
Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst January 1, 2003 January 8, 2023 Gonzaga University School of Law
Associate Chief Justice Charles W. Johnson January 1991 January 10, 2021 Seattle University School of Law
Justice Barbara Madsen 1993 January 8, 2023 Gonzaga University School of Law
Justice Susan Owens January 1, 2001 January 13, 2019 University of North Carolina School of Law
Justice Debra L. Stephens January 1, 2008 January 10, 2021 Christine Gregoire Gonzaga University School of Law
Justice Charlie K. Wiggins January 7, 2011 January 8, 2023 Duke University School of Law
Justice Steven C. Gonzalez January 2012 January 13, 2019 Christine Gregoire University of California, Berkeley School of Law
Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud January 1, 2013 January 13, 2019 USC Gould School of Law
Justice Mary Yu May 20, 2014 January 8, 2023 Jay Inslee Notre Dame Law School




  1. ^ Wash. St. Const. Art. IV § 3(a).
  2. ^ Jake Dear and Edward W. Jessen, " Followed Rates" and Leading State Cases, 1940–2005, 41 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 683, 694(2007).

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