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Appellate Practice in Washington

This research guide is not intended to be comprehensive, but rather will list some of the major sources of law in the area and a variety of tools for the researcher to use when confronted with questions involving appellate procedure in Washington.

Appellate Courts

Washington has two levels of appellate courts. The highest court, the state's court of last resort, is the Washington Supreme Court. The Supreme Court generally sits in the Temple of Justice in Olympia. Occasionally, however, the court will hold sessions at other locations in the state. The Supreme Court of Washington is composed of nine justices elected by voters of Washington. Each justice's term of office is six years. Their terms are staggered so that every two years, some positions on the court come up for election.

The intermediate appellate court in Washington is called the Court of Appeals. It was created by legislative act in 1969. The court is divided into three divisions based on geography. Division One includes the northwest part of the state. The court sits in Seattle. Division Two includes the southwest part of the state. The court sits in Tacoma. Division Three includes the eastern half of the state. The court sits in Spokane. Like the Supreme Court the various panels of the appellate court hold sessions at other locations on occasion. The number of judges on the Court of Appeals (and in each division) is set by statute (RCW 2.06.040). The number generally reflects the population of the geographic region covered.

The Washington Courts website contains links to both the Supreme Court and all three divisions of the Court of Appeals. The site contains recently filed opinions, docket and calendar information and biographies of judges. 

Biographical Information on the Judges

Biographical Information on the Judges can be useful if an attorney knows who will be on the panel deciding the appeal.  In addition to biographical information on the courts' websites, the resources listed below provide information about judges.