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.
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 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).
|Washington Supreme Court|
|Established||9 November 1889|
|Authorized by||Washington State Constitution|
|Decisions are appealed to||Supreme Court of the United States|
|Judge term length||6 years|
|No. of positions||9|
|Jurist term ends||2022|
|Title||Name||Joined the Court||Current Term Ends||Appointed By||Legal Education|
|Chief Justice||Mary Fairhurst||2003||2021||–||Gonzaga University School of Law|
|Associate Chief Justice||Charles W. Johnson||1991||2021||–||Seattle University School of Law|
|Justice||Barbara Madsen||1993||2022||–||Gonzaga University School of Law|
|Justice||Susan Owens||2001||2019||–||University of North Carolina School of Law|
|Justice||Debra L. Stephens||2008||2021||Christine Gregoire||Gonzaga University School of Law|
|Justice||Charlie K. Wiggins||2011||2022||–||Duke University School of Law|
|Justice||Steven C. Gonzalez||2012||2019||Christine Gregoire||University of California, Berkeley School of Law|
|Justice||Sheryl Gordon McCloud||2013||2019||–||USC Gould School of Law|
|Justice||Mary Yu||2014||2022||Jay Inslee||Notre Dame Law School|